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New policies foster growth of foreign trade

By XU WEI (China Daily) Updated: 2020-11-17

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Support for exporters' use of technologies to explore international market

The central government has unveiled a new package of measures to spur the growth of foreign trade, including steps to support exporters' use of new technologies and channels to explore the international market and enhance the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises.

The measures were laid out in a guideline issued by the General Office of the State Council, China's Cabinet, on Nov 9 in a bid to promote the high quality and innovative development of the foreign trade sector.

Key policies include offering businesses support in the utilization of technologies such as fifth-generation communication technology, virtual reality and big data to exhibit their products and conduct business consultations online, and fostering businesses with global competitiveness in the telecommunications, power grid, engineering machinery and railway sectors.

In boosting the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises, the government will launch an initiative to help the growth of SMEs and encourage them to explore the international market in clusters.

The Cabinet pledged to guarantee the stability of global supply chains by ensuring exports of key businesses and products with major implications in global industrial chains.

More support will be extended to China's equipment manufacturers, including those from the power grid, railway, telecommunications equipment and aerospace sectors, to explore the global market, it said, adding that it will seek to bolster the competitiveness of the biological technology, energy-saving and environmental protection, new energy and robotics sectors.

Ren Hongbin, assistant minister of commerce, told a news conference on Thursday that the document outlined a new path for the growth of China's foreign trade sector against the background of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The latest measures seek to add new impetus to the sector with innovative business models, offering fresh incentives to the growth of cross-border e-commerce and giving strong emphasis to the development of digital trade, he said.

They will also encourage businesses to better coordinate the exploration of domestic and foreign markets and refine the structure of imported products so they can supply cutting-edge technologies and equipment, energy and resources to customers and high-quality goods to consumers, Ren said.

China's exports rose by 11.4 percent year-on-year last month-the fastest pace in 19 months-while imports rose by 4.7 percent from a year earlier, according to the General Administration of Customs.

The value of imports and exports in the first 10 months of the year was a record 25.95 trillion yuan ($3.94 trillion), up 1.1 percent year-on-year.

The government's efforts to diversify foreign trade partners are also paying off, with shipments to emerging markets accounting for 48.7 percent exports in the first three quarters of the year, up by 8.4 percentage points from the level in 2008, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

Shipments by private enterprises accounted for 55.5 percent of exports in the first nine months of the year, up by 28.7 percentage points over 2008, the ministry said.

Li Xingqian, head of the ministry's foreign trade department, said at the conference that the growth of new business models, including cross-border e-commerce, will be a policy priority. The government will continue to refine its policy mix, support pilot projects by local authorities and encourage businesses to innovate their business models in spurring the growth of cross-border e-commerce.

He added that a number of Chinese e-commerce platforms have gone global to explore emerging markets such as the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Africa, and over 1,800 overseas warehouses have been established by Chinese e-commerce businesses.

Tu Xinquan, professor and dean of the China Institute for WTO Studies at the University of International Business and Economics, said the latest policies give priority to amplifying the strengths of different regions and sectors in facilitating the growth of foreign trade.

A highlight of the document is that it stresses the need to develop new types of trade in services and accelerate the growth of digital trade, which could be another growth engine for the foreign trade sector, he said.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has given more prominence to the importance of cross-border e-commerce, and we have reasons to believe that it will take up a bigger share in China's overall foreign trade in the near future," Tu said.