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SCIO press conference on commerce work, operations in H1 2023

China.org.cn | August 8, 2023


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Ms. Guo Tingting, vice minister of commerce

Mr. Yang Tao, director general of the Comprehensive Department of the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM)

Mr. Xu Xingfeng, director general of the Department of Market Operation and Consumption Promotion of MOFCOM

Mr. Li Xingqian, director general of the Department of Foreign Trade of MOFCOM

Mr. Zhu Bing, director general of the Department of Foreign Investment Administration of MOFCOM


Ms. Shou Xiaoli, deputy director general of the Press Bureau of the State Council Information Office (SCIO) and spokesperson of the SCIO


July 19, 2023

Shou Xiaoli:

Friends from the media, good afternoon. Welcome to this press conference held by the State Council Information Office (SCIO). Today, we have invited Ms. Guo Tingting, vice minister of commerce, to brief you on China's commerce work and operations in the first half of 2023 and to take your questions. We also have with us Mr. Yang Tao, director general of the Comprehensive Department of the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM); Mr. Xu Xingfeng, director general of the Department of Market Operation and Consumption Promotion of MOFCOM; Mr. Li Xingqian, director general of the Department of Foreign Trade of MOFCOM; and Mr. Zhu Bing, director general of the Department of Foreign Investment Administration of MOFCOM. Now, I'll give the floor to Ms. Guo for a brief introduction.

Guo Tingting:

Thank you. Friends from the media, good afternoon. I want to begin by expressing my gratitude for your continued interest in and support for our commerce work. It is a pleasure to have you all here today at this press conference. Now, let me give you a brief overview of our business operations in the first half of this year.

Since the beginning of this year, under the strong leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, MOFCOM has fully implemented the guiding principles of the 20th CPC National Congress, focused on promoting various tasks in the business field, and promoted the introduction of a series of policies and measures. In the first half of the year, business operations generally showed a trend of recovery, and high-quality business development made steady progress.

First, domestic consumption experienced a relatively swift recovery. We organized a series of initiatives under the 2023 "Year of Consumption Promotion" campaign, introducing policies and measures to stimulate household consumption and actively promote its expansion. As a result, the total retail sales of social consumer goods reached 22.8 trillion yuan, marking a year-on-year increase of 8.2%. Notably, contact-based consumption experienced a significant rebound, with catering income surging by 21.4%. Furthermore, sales of upgraded products flourished, including a 44.1% increase in the sales of new energy vehicles (NEVs), while sales of gold, silver and jewelry, and sports and entertainment products above designated size increased by 17.5% and 10.5%, respectively. Online shopping also surged, with online retail sales of physical goods growing by 10.8%, accounting for 26.6% of the total social retail sales.

Second, foreign trade maintained its growth momentum. Despite challenges such as weak international demand, we diligently implemented guidelines for stabilizing the scale and optimizing the structure of foreign trade. We have assisted enterprises in expanding markets and securing orders. In the first half of the year, imports and exports of goods totaled 20.1 trillion yuan, an increase of 2.1%, and exports increased by 3.7%, with a surplus of 2.8 trillion yuan, an increase of 17.4%. China's exports accounted for 14% of the international market in the first quarter, a rise of 0.3 percentage point from the previous year. Notably, our trade with emerging markets surpassed that with Europe and the United States, with a 5.4% increase in imports and exports to ASEAN, 7% increase to Latin America and 10.5% increase to Africa. Meanwhile, exports to the EU grew by 1.9%, while exports to the United States declined by 8.4%. Private enterprises displayed considerable resilience in their import and export activities, achieving an 8.9% increase, and their share rose by 3.3 percentage points to 52.7%. The "three new products" (electric vehicles, lithium batteries and solar cells) gained significant momentum, leading to a remarkable 61.6% increase in total exports, thus becoming a new driving force for trade growth. Additionally, there was a notable 6.3% increase in the export of mechanical and electrical products. Trade in services also experienced rapid growth, with imports and exports of services in the first five months reaching 2.6 trillion yuan, representing a 10.2% increase. Specifically, the import and export of travel services saw a remarkable surge of 67%.

Third, the absorption of foreign capital remained stable. Since the beginning of this year, we have dedicated ourselves to a series of "Year of Investment Promotion" activities to attract and utilize foreign capital more effectively. The number of newly established foreign-funded enterprises saw a rapid increase. In the first half of the year, 24,000 foreign-invested enterprises were established, marking a significant rise of 35.7%. The actual utilization of foreign capital decreased by 2.7%, reaching 703.65 billion yuan. Investment from developed countries continued to grow in China, with France, the United Kingdom, Japan and Germany witnessing increases of 173.3%, 135.3%, 53% and 14.2%, respectively. The quality of foreign investment also improved, particularly in high-tech industries, which experienced a 7.9% increase, accounting for 39.4% of the total foreign investment, rising by 3.9 percentage points. Foreign investment in high-tech manufacturing specifically rose by 28.8%. The role of leading opening-up areas in driving investment is evident, as the 21 pilot free trade zones attracted 129.66 billion yuan of foreign capital, representing an increase of 8.2%, and accounting for 18.4% of the country's total foreign investment.

Fourth, foreign investment and cooperation steadily progressed. We continued to enhance the quality and level of foreign investment and cooperation while further advancing the high-quality development of the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In the first half of the year, China's non-financial outbound direct investment totaled 431.61 billion yuan, registering an increase of 22.7%. We expanded cooperation in new areas like the green, digital and blue economies. During this period, we inked new memorandums of cooperation with four countries, including Brazil, and signed a total of 41 investment cooperation memorandums in related fields. We also saw improvements in the quality and efficiency of overseas contracted projects, achieving a 7% increase in turnover to 490.1 billion yuan, while the construction and operation of key projects steadily moved forward.

Fifth, bilateral and multilateral cooperation continues to deepen. We continue to expand the global network of high-standard free trade zones (FTZs) and the comprehensive implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). We held negotiations on version 3.0 of China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (FTA) and the ministerial meeting with signatories of the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement, and actively promoted our accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). In the first half of the year, China signed a free trade agreement (FTA) with Ecuador, completed substantive negotiations on the FTA upgrade with Singapore, and put into effect the early achievements of FTZ negotiation with Nicaragua. We firmly upheld the multilateral trading system and actively participated in WTO reform. China has played a key role in concluding negotiations on the text of the Investment Facilitation for Development agreement, and completed the domestic ratification process of the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies. A total of 14 Chinese proposals were made in fields such as trade and the environment. We continue to deepen bilateral economic and trade cooperation. A series of events were held, including the Fifth Meeting of the Council of China-France Entrepreneurs, the Sino-German Entrepreneurs Roundtable, China-Central Asia Economic and Trade Ministers' Meeting, China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo, and the China-Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC) Expo.

Next, MOFCOM will follow the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and fully implement the decisions and plans made by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council. We will work to perform the important role of commerce development in three aspects. Efforts will be intensified to ensure stable performance in foreign trade and investment, as well as to promote consumption, providing strong support for sustaining China's economic recovery.

That concludes a brief overview of our work. Next, my colleagues and I are happy to answer your questions. Thank you.

Shou Xiaoli:

Thank you. Now the floor is open for questions. Please identify the news outlet you work for before asking your question.

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