中文
SCIO briefing on China's import and export of 2020
Beijing | 10 a.m. Jan. 14, 2021

The State Council Information Office (SCIO) held a press conference in Beijing on Thursday about China's import and export in 2020.

Speaker

Li Kuiwen, spokesperson and director of the Department of Statistics and Analysis of the General Administration of Customs

Chairperson

Shou Xiaoli, deputy head of the Press Bureau of the State Council Information Office

Read in Chinese

Speaker:

Li Kuiwen, spokesperson and director of the Department of Statistics & Analysis of the General Administration of Customs

Chairperson:

Shou Xiaoli, deputy head of the Press Bureau of the State Council Information Office

Date: 

Jan. 14, 2021


Shou Xiaoli:

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. Welcome to this press conference from the State Council Information Office (SCIO). This is a routine press conference on China's annual economic standing. Today, we are delighted to be joined by Mr. Li Kuiwen, spokesperson and director of the Department of Statistics & Analysis of the General Administration of Customs, who will introduce China's import and export performance of 2020 and answer your questions.

Now, let's give the floor to Mr. Li.

Li Kuiwen:

Ladies and gentlemen, friends from the media, good morning. It's a great pleasure to meet with you. I'll begin by introducing China's import and export performance of 2020, and then answer your questions.

In 2020, China faced a grave and complex domestic and international landscape and a severe economic impact posed by COVID-19. Under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, China was the only major economy to realize positive economic growth last year, with its foreign trade exceeding expectations and registering a historical high. According to statistics from the General Administration of Customs of the People's Republic of China (GACC), China's total foreign trade of goods expanded 1.9% year on year to 32.16 trillion yuan (about 4.97 trillion U.S. dollars) in 2020. Exports grew by 4% to 17.93 trillion yuan, while imports declined by 0.7% to 14.23 trillion yuan. The trade surplus increased by 27.4% to 3.7 trillion yuan. There are six main reasons for these changes:

Li Kuiwen:

First, foreign trade reached a historical high. The global economy and trade have taken strong hits in 2020 and China faced a severely complex external environment for foreign trade. In spite of these challenges, China's foreign trade has rapidly rebounded and steadily grown, displaying its great resilience and comprehensive competitiveness. From June 2020, China registered positive growth in foreign trade for seven consecutive months and hit a record high in total foreign trade volume, exports, and the international market share, becoming the only major economy with positive growth in trade of goods last year. China's role as the world's largest trader in goods has been further consolidated. According to data from the World Trade Organization (WTO) and countries around the world, China's exports, imports, and the two combined in the first ten months of 2020 accounted for 14.2%, 11.5%, and 12.8% of the international market, respectively, all reaching historical highs.

Second, foreign trade entities have been further energized. In 2020, China has 531,000 enterprises with exports' and imports' record, an increase of 6.2% year on year. Meanwhile, China's private sector registered 14.98 trillion yuan in imports and exports, an increase of 11.1%, accounting for 46.6% of the country's total foreign trade volume and 3.9 percentage points higher than the previous year. The private sector played an important part in stabilizing foreign trade, further consolidating its role as the biggest foreign trade entity. Foreign-invested enterprises marked 12.44 trillion in foreign trade, making up 38.7% of the country's total foreign trade volume. State-owned enterprises accumulated 4.61 trillion yuan in imports and exports, accounting for 14.3% of all foreign trade.

Third, our trading partners are diversifying. In 2020, China's trade with its five major trading partners, namely, ASEAN, European Union, the United States, Japan, and South Korea, reached 4.74 trillion yuan, 4.5 trillion yuan, 4.06 trillion yuan, 2.2 trillion yuan, and 1.97 trillion yuan, up by 7%, 5.3%, 8.8%, 1.2%, and 0.7%, respectively. In addition, trade with countries along the Belt and Road reached 9.37 trillion yuan, up 1%.

Fourth, trade modes have been continuously optimized. In 2020, China's general trade increased by 3.4% to 19.25 trillion yuan, accounting for 59.9% of China's total foreign trade volume, 0.9 percentage points higher than the previous year. Exports grew by 6.9% to 10.65 trillion yuan, while imports fell by 0.7% to 8.6 trillion yuan. Processing trade dropped by 3.9% to 7.64 trillion yuan, accounting for 23.8% of the total foreign trade volume.

Fifth, exports of traditionally competitive products maintained growth. In 2020, China's exports of electromechanical products increased by 6% to 10.66 trillion yuan, making up 59.4% of the country's total exports, and increasing 1.1 percentage year on year. Exports of laptops, home appliances, and medical equipment went up by 20.4%, 24.2%, and 41.5%, respectively. At the same time, exports of seven types of labor-intensive products including textiles and clothes rose by 6.2% to 3.58 trillion yuan. Exports of textile products including face masks surged by 30.4% to 1.07 trillion yuan.

Sixth, exports of anti-epidemic supplies provided strong support for the global combat against COVID-19. China has been playing its part as the world's largest supplier of anti-epidemic materials by proactively carrying out international cooperation to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, and making the utmost efforts to provide and export anti-epidemic materials to over 200 countries and regions. From March to December 2020, customs authorities across China cleared major anti-epidemic supplies worth 438.5 billion yuan, showing China's commitment as a responsible major player in the fight against COVID-19 worldwide. Meanwhile, exports of products in the "stay-at-home economy," such as laptops, grew by 8.5% to 2.51 trillion yuan, meeting the needs of people across the globe living and working at home during the pandemic.

Li Kuiwen:

In 2020, China made outstanding achievements in foreign trade, which did not come easily amid unprecedented challenges and difficulties. This is the result of the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, which speaks volumes of the resilience and vitality of China's foreign trade. China customs also played its part with relentless efforts. Over the past year, we firmly implemented the decisions and plans of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council; carried out the work in a timely and pragmatic manner; stabilized foreign trade growth by introducing a number of policies while preventing and controlling the cross-border spread of COVID-19, and; strengthened supervision efforts and improved services to ensure stable and high-quality foreign trade.

In 2021, the world faces further uncertainties brought about by the pandemic and global landscape. The global economic situation is still grave and complex, posing uncertainties and instabilities to foreign trade growth. China customs will follow the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, implement the spirit of the 19th National Congress of the CPC, the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of the CPC and the Central Economic Work Conference, and adhere to the principle of seeking progress while ensuring stability. China customs will stick to its new development philosophy and foster a new development paradigm in the new development state, maintain security in the six areas in order to ensure stability on the six fronts, strengthen supervision efforts and improve services, and continuously optimize the business environment at ports to strive for higher-level opening-up and quality development of foreign trade. GACC will contribute to a good start of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) in the development of foreign trade and commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC via great achievements.

Next, I'll be answering your questions.

Shou Xiaoli:

Thank you, Mr. Li. Now the floor is open to questions. Please identify your news outlet before raising questions.

_ueditor_page_break_tag_

CCTV:

My questions are: What are the main reasons for the growth of China's foreign trade amid the COVID-19 outbreaks in 2020? What do you think of China's foreign trade last year in general? What are your predictions for trends in 2021? I would like to hear your insights. Thank you.

Li Kuiwen:

Thank you for your questions. The CPC Central Committee and the State Council pay great attention to stabilizing foreign trade. General Secretary Xi Jinping advised stabilizing the fundamentals of foreign trade and foreign investment, ensuring smooth operation of foreign trade industrial chains and supply chains, and stabilizing China's international market share. Last year was unusual in the sense that though we were faced with a grave and complex domestic and international landscape and the severe impact posed by COVID-19, China was the only major economy to experience positive growth in trade of goods and exceeded expectations regarding foreign trade overall. This demonstrates great resilience and competitiveness in China's foreign trade and we can say that China achieved stable and high-quality foreign trade.

"Stability" was reflected in three ways. First, a record high in total foreign trade volume and international market share. China saw its foreign trade stabilize quickly after substantial fluctuations in the first quarter of 2020. The trade volume registered a new high in each successive quarter, with the year's total volume reaching a record high of 32 trillion yuan, a figure was attained amid dramatically shrinking global trade. The international market share also registered a record high thanks to the unusual growth of foreign trade. As I just mentioned, the WHO's statistics on monthly trade in goods of major economies showed that China's exports, imports, and the two combined accounted for 14.2%, 11.5%, and 12.8% of the international market in the first 10 months of 2020, 0.4, 0.7, and 0.8 percentage points higher than previous records, respectively. Therefore, China's role as the world's largest trader in goods has been further consolidated.

Second, exports have been driven by an increased need for anti-epidemic supplies and products for the "stay-at-home economy." As China brought COVID-19 under effective control and resumed work and production, the country saw its exports rebound in April and maintain growth ever since. With a much higher demand for anti-epidemic materials and products for the "stay-at-home economy" globally, China's exports of textile products (face masks included), medical equipment, and medicine surged by 31%, contributing to a 1.9-percentage-point increase in overall exports. China's exports of laptops, tablet computers, and home appliances rose by 22.1%, increasing overall exports by 1.3 percentage point. Those exported goods met the anti-epidemic needs of countries worldwide as well as those people across the globe living and working at home during the pandemic.

Third, there was a huge boost to imports in the domestic market. China's huge domestic market showed a more prominent advantage in stabilizing imports amid the pandemic. In 2020, in terms of resource products, China imported 7.3% more crude oil and 7% more metal ore, while in terms of agricultural products, China imported 28% and 60.4% more grain and meat, respectively.

Those are the three aspects that reflect "stable" foreign trade.

"Quality improvement" was also demonstrated in three ways. First, through an improved foreign trade structure. Trade growth among private companies in China was 9.2 percentage points higher than the country's overall level in 2020, becoming a major driving force in China's foreign trade. General trade saw year-on-year growth of 0.9% in 2020. The country also saw a more balanced foreign trade development among various regions. With new progress made in transferring industries from eastern China to western and central China, the western and central regions saw their trade increase by 11%, accounting for 17.5% of the country's total and 1.4 percentage points higher than the previous year.

Second, there was an even higher driving force for foreign trade development. As new modes of foreign trade prospered, the trade volume of cross-border e-commerce registered at 1.69 trillion yuan, up by 31.1%, and exports based on procurement from markets increased by 25.2%. China ran 12,400 China-Europe freight trains throughout the year and delivered 1.14 million TEUs, up by 50% and 56% year-on year, respectively. The combined heavy container rate was up to 98.4%.

Third, a higher level of opening up has played a leading role. The trade volume of comprehensive bonded areas and free trade areas increased by 17.4% and 10.7%, respectively. Imports of duty-free goods at Hainan Free Trade Port rose by 80.5%.

The above is my evaluation of the performance of foreign trade imports and exports throughout the year.

As for this year, in my opinion, the global economy is expected to recover and drive trade growth, and the restoration of the Chinese economy's stable growth will help support foreign trade. However, we must also understand that many uncertainties brought about by the pandemic in the external environment remain, and therefore, so too will difficulties and challenges in foreign trade. The new development pattern, in which domestic and foreign markets reinforce each other, with the domestic market as the mainstay, is now taking shape in China at a higher speed. The country is also promoting a higher level of opening up and developing new advantages in international cooperation and competition. Thus, I believe China is expected to maintain its foreign trade growth in 2021 and make fresh progress in its high-quality development.

_ueditor_page_break_tag_

Red Star News:

Facing the current severe global epidemic situation, what measures has China Customs taken to prevent the virus from being imported via cold chain food products? How has the effect been so far? Thank you. 

Li Kuiwen: 

I want to add that the latest relevant data we just released has been published on the GACC website simultaneously. We wish to share it with you all.

Thank you for your question. The GACC has resolutely implemented General Secretary Xi Jinping's important instructions on inspection and quarantine of imported cold chain food. Acting strictly in accordance with the general arrangements of the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council, customs has tightened inspections of imported frozen food products to prevent the spread of COVID-19 via cold chains. We have mainly taken measures in four aspects:

First, we have strengthened source management. We have enhanced communication and consultation with the relevant administrations of exporting countries, and required them to supervise the exporting of food to China according to regulatory guidelines released by the FAO and the WHO. They must see to it that food exporters strictly implement the guidelines for food companies by the FAO and the WHO, so as to ensure their exports and packaging are not contaminated by the virus at all levels of procedure, including production, processing, storage, and transportation. We have also informed the exporting countries' administrations of the two guidelines stipulated by China's National Health Commission, namely Technical Guideline for COVID-19 Prevention and Control in Cold Chain Food Production and Operation and Technical Guideline for the Prevention, Control and Disinfection of COVID-19 in Cold Chain Food Production and Operation Processes. We have urged and kept track of those enterprises exporting food to China to implement the two technical guidelines, and taken preventive and control measures in time. Currently, we have suspended imports from 124 cold chain food companies in 21 countries whose employees have been infected with COVID-19. Among them, 107 voluntarily suspended their exports to China after the epidemic outbreak. 

Second, we have reinforced risk monitoring procedures for the virus in imported cold chain food. We have conducted nucleic acid sample testing of imported cold chain food, especially imported seafood. By Jan.13, customs across China have tested a total of 1,295,692 samples, with 47 positive results. 

Third, we have implemented emergent preventive measures after finding positive samples. The GACC will temporarily stop import declarations of any overseas food production enterprises found to have positive samples for one to four weeks. We have now adopted such emergent preventive measures against 39 overseas food production and operation facilities. 

Fourth, we have conducted preventive disinfection work at ports across China. In accordance with the work plan on preventive and thorough disinfection of imported cold chain food released by the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council, we have carried out stringent disinfection of cold-chain food imports at ports of entry, and intensified cooperation with relevant departments to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 through imported cold-chain food. As of Jan. 13, ports across the country have disinfected 13,170,000 outer packages of imported cold chain food for prevention purposes.

Thank you. 

_ueditor_page_break_tag_

CRI:

Last November, China signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement. Could you please describe imports and exports between China and RCEP countries last year? In addition, did the GACC make any preparations before the agreement came into effect? Thank you.

Li Kuiwen:

Thank you for your questions. Let me first brief you on the trade between China and other RCEP countries.

In 2020, the total value of China's imports and exports to the other 14 RCEP countries was 10.2 trillion yuan, climbing 3.5% year-on-year and accounting for 31.7% of China's total imports and exports during the same period. Exports accounted for 4.83 trillion yuan, an increase of 5%, while imports totaled 5.37 trillion yuan, an increase of 2.2%. Here are the details:

In terms of trading partners, ASEAN has become China's largest trading partner, with an import and export value reaching 4.74 trillion yuan, an increase of 7%. Japan and South Korea are China's fourth and fifth largest trading partners, with imports and exports reaching 2.2 trillion yuan and 1.97 trillion yuan, an increase of 1.2% and 0.7%, respectively. Meanwhile, imports and exports to Australia reached 1.17 trillion yuan, a decrease of 0.1%, and imports and exports to New Zealand hit 125.53 billion yuan, a decrease of 0.4%.

In terms of exported goods, exports of electromechanical products reached 2.6 trillion yuan, an increase of 7.3%, accounting for 53.8% of the total value of exports to RCEP countries during the same period. Among them, exports of integrated circuits accounted for 314.03 billion yuan, increasing 15%, and automatic data processing equipment and their parts and components were 260.63 billion yuan, an increase of 11.1%. During the same period, the export of labor-intensive products amounted to 944.8 billion yuan, an increase of 11.9%.

In terms of imported goods, imports of integrated circuits were 1.08 trillion yuan, up 9.8%; automatic data processing equipment and their parts and components were 178.45 billion yuan, up 8%; imports of iron ore were 496.35 billion yuan, an increase of 14.7%, and; plastics in primary forms were 156.33 billion yuan, down 0.3%.

As to your second question, RCEP is now the world's largest free-trade zone, encompassing approximately one-third of the world's population and 30% of the global GDP and trade. Member countries see stellar prospects for the RCEP. The GACC has been fulfilling its duties and accelerating relevant preparatory work before the implementation of the RCEP.

First, the GACC has strengthened the organization and leadership. Fully implementing the deployment of the Party Central Committee and the State Council, the GACC quickly established a leading group for RCEP implementation and organized experts in relevant fields to form a number of special working subgroups to oversee different affairs such as tariffs, to accelerate preparations for RCEP implementation.

Secondly, the GACC has worked to establish rules and regulations to ensure that the RCEP Rules of Origin (ROO) are implemented. The GACC is preparing to promulgate measures for the administration of the origin of RCEP imported and exported goods and measures for the administration of approved exporters, optimize processes for declaring preferential import and export visas under the RCEP, and build a supporting information system to make it easy for companies to do so. 

Thirdly, the GACC has increased its training and guided companies to make full use of the RCEP's preferential policies. According to the provisions of the ROO, the optional scope of capital goods for companies has been greatly expanded and multiple types of benefits have been provided for them. The GACC will increase efforts to make the policies known to the companies and help them understand tariff reduction and preferential rules and make sure the companies get the most out of these benefits. At the same time, given the difficulties that may arise during the implementation of RCEP, we have increased research and training and will prepare in advance to better serve the companies. Thank you.

_ueditor_page_break_tag_

National Business Daily:

The "stay-at-home economy" played an important role in last year's exports. Will this economy continue to drive export growth in 2021? In addition, what new measures will the General Administration of Customs (GACC) take next to promote the high-quality development of foreign trade? Thank you.

Li Kuiwen:

Thank you for your question. Regarding the first question, well, anti-epidemic supplies and products of the "stay-at-home economy" indeed constituted a significant driver for foreign trade development last year. Here, I would like to brief you on the latest data for the export of our anti-epidemic materials.

Statistics show that from March to the end of last year, the GACC cleared 438.5 billion yuan's worth of major anti-epidemic supplies. Regarding face masks, which attracted the most public attention, China exported 224.2 billion of them, with a value of 340 billion yuan, which is equivalent to providing nearly 40 face masks for every individual in the world outside of China. The exported masks included 65 billion surgical masks, nearly 30% of the total. We also exported 2.31 billion protective suits, including 773 million for medical use, 289 million pairs of goggles, and 2.92 billion pairs of surgical gloves. These products have provided a guarantee for medical personnel and other epidemic prevention and control workers to protect themselves.

In terms of medical equipment, we exported 271,000 ventilators, of which 212,000 were non-invasive, as well as 663,000 patient monitors and 119 million infrared thermometers. In addition, 1.08 billion novel coronavirus testing kits were exported, providing support for virus detection work.

We have taken the advantage of being the first country to fully resume work and production and the largest supplier of anti-epidemic materials worldwide. While meeting the domestic needs for epidemic prevention and control, we have exported anti-pandemic materials to most countries and regions in the world, giving strong support to the global fight against the COVID-19 epidemic.

Just now I introduced some data in regard to products of the "stay-at-home economy."

Customs offices also adopted some measures to supervise and serve the development of foreign trade. We have firmly implemented the arrangements of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council and concentrated on ensuring stability on the six fronts (employment, finance, foreign trade, inbound investment, domestic investment, and market expectations) and guarantee in the six areas (jobs, daily living needs, food and energy, industrial and supply chains, the interests of market players, and the smooth functioning of grassroots government), coordinating the epidemic prevention and control at ports and the promotion of stable growth of foreign trade. In July, we held a national customs teleconference on stabilizing foreign trade and foreign investment and launched 56 relevant measures to constantly facilitate customs clearance and ensure the smooth circulation of both domestic and international trade movements. There are four main aspects to these measures:

First, the business environment at ports has continuously been optimized. We have comprehensively taken measures such as the "two-step declaration," "advance declaration," "green channels," and non-physical presence of sender or receiver during customs cargo examination to improve customs clearance efficiency. Last December, the overall customs clearance time for imports and exports nationwide registered 34.91 hours and 1.78 hours, respectively, down by 64.2% and 85.5% from 2017.

Second, costs for enterprises have been further reduced. We have vigorously rolled out pilot Tariff Guarantee Insurance, with 3,509 participating businesses and guaranteed taxes reaching 377.6 billion yuan. Of the participants, nearly 80% were small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), effectively mitigating difficulties in accessing affordable financing for various enterprises, especially SMEs.

Third, the development of new trade forms has been promoted. We have comprehensively advanced the regulatory measures for cross-border e-commerce product returns and launched trials for cross-border e-commerce business-to-business (B2B) exports. We encouraged the central, western, and northeast regions of China to carry out trials on market procurement trade. In 2020, imports and exports for China's cross-border e-commerce increased by 31.1%, and market procurement exports by 25.2%, becoming an important stabilizer for foreign trade.

Fourth, new pacesetters for opening-up have been developed. Vigorous support has been given to build the Hainan free-trade port and Yangshan Special Comprehensive Bonded Zone. Between July 1, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2020, the customs agencies supervised duty-free sales of 19.99 billion yuan's worth of goods, with a year-on-year growth of 191.6%. We have stepped up efforts to innovate customs supervision systems in pilot free-trade zones and replicate those measures proven to be effective in pilot free-trade zones elsewhere. We have promoted the implementation of global maintenance and remanufacturing operations in the comprehensive bonded zones. In 2020, the import and export volume of China's comprehensive bonded zones totaled 3.43 trillion yuan, an increase of 17.4%, and 15.5 percentage points higher than the overall growth of foreign trade.

In the next step, customs offices in the country will intensify efforts to implement the existing measures, strive to succeed in the "last mile" of policy implementation, and make every effort to promote the high-quality development of foreign trade and investment. Thank you.

_ueditor_page_break_tag_

Bloomberg News:

According to the data you have just released, the trade surplus in China exceeded $500 billion last year, the highest figure since 2015. Do you think trade surplus will continue to grow or do you think the demand for imports in the country will increase in 2021? Please give us a brief analysis, thank you.

Li Kuiwen:

Thank you for your question. Actually, I already answered this question when discussing trends in this year's foreign trade just now. Regarding the overall development of foreign trade in 2021, I think that the world economy is expected to recover and the domestic economy will provide strong support for foreign trade. However, we should also be aware that changes in the pandemic situation and the external environment will both bring difficulties and challenges to the development of our country's foreign trade. Thanks to the advantages of the large domestic market, the gradual formation of a new pattern of development, and the continuous promotion of high-level opening-up, I believe that foreign trade this year is expected to maintain certain growth. But we still need to further observe factors related to this issue. Thank you.

_ueditor_page_break_tag_

China News Service:

I would like to ask what measures customs have taken to ensure stability on six fronts and maintain security in six areas to promote the high-quality development of foreign trade as well as expand high-level opening up? Thank you.

Li Kuiwen:

I have already discussed the relevant measures taken by customs when answering previous questions, thank you.

The Paper:

With the recovery of China's productivity supply capacity, many foreign trade enterprises experienced a situation where demand exceeded supply at the end of 2020. This year, will China's exports still perform better than imports? Thank you.

Li Kuiwen:

Thank you for your question. Just now, I have answered a relevant question about the trend of foreign trade this year. Generally speaking, knowing whether China's exports will continue to outperform imports requires further observation of the global economy and trade situation. Thus, we will continue to observe and pay close attention to this issue. Thank you.

_ueditor_page_break_tag_

South China Morning Post:

I have two questions. First, according to the China-U.S. phase-one economic and trade agreement, China promised to import no less than $63.9 billion in additional goods in 2020 from the base of 2017. How did that go last year according to China's data? And what changes have occurred in procurement from the U.S. in the context of the U.S. presidential election and the current pandemic situation? Second, could you please provide some specific data on trade between China and Australia, including the December figures for coal, iron ore and liquefied natural gas imports from Australia? Has China already set coal import quotas for 2021, and will the ban on Australian coal imports be adjusted? In addition, after lifting a ban on scrap steel imports on Jan. 1 this year, will China reduce its iron ore imports from Australia? Thank you. 

Li Kuiwen:

Thank you for your questions. Let me start by answering the first question. In terms of China-U.S. trade, I would like to brief you on the relevant data.

In 2020, the total value of China-U.S. bilateral trade in goods was 4.06 trillion yuan, an increase of 8.8%, accounting for 12.6% of China's total imports and exports during the period. Of this, exports to the U.S. reached 3.13 trillion yuan, an increase of 8.4%, while imports from the U.S. reached 931.87 billion yuan, an increase of 10.1%. In terms of exports, in 2020, China's exports of mechanical and electrical products to the U.S. reached 1.92 trillion yuan, an increase of 9%, accounting for 61.4% of the total exports to the U.S. in the same period. Of this, the export of laptops and cellphones increased by 23.4% and 4.6% respectively. During the same period, the export of labor-intensive products increased by 9.8%, and the export of pharmaceutical materials and drugs increased by 30.7%.

In terms of imports, in 2020, China's imports of agricultural products from the U.S. reached 162.74 billion yuan, an increase of 66.9%. Imports of soybeans, pork, cotton and crude oil grew by 56.3%, 223.8%, 121.7% and 88%, respectively. In addition, the import of automobiles was 60.01 billion yuan, down 4.1%.

As for your concerns about the implementation of the China-U.S. phase-one economic and trade agreement and the latest China-U.S. economic and trade trends, the relevant departments have already issued statements, and I will not repeat them here.

Regarding your second question, about Sino-Australian trade, let me first update you on trade between China and Australia.

In 2020, the total imports and exports between China and Australia reached 1.17 trillion yuan, down 0.1%. Of this, exports to Australia amounted to 370.23 billion yuan, up 11.2%, while imports from Australia were 796.35 billion yuan, down 4.6%. In terms of trading commodities, China's main export commodities to Australia in 2020 were mechanical and electrical products and labor-intensive products, accounting for 76.1% of its total exports to the country. The main commodities imported from Australia were iron ore and natural gas, which accounted for 70.6% of the total imports.

For other information on Sino-Australian trade, please consult the relevant authorities. Thank you.

Shou Xiaoli:

Now for the last two questions.

_ueditor_page_break_tag_

CRNTT:

Hello, Mr. Li, just now you mentioned that new foreign trade formats such as cross-border e-commerce and the market procurement trade flourished in 2020. Could you please give us a detailed account of the development of the new format and the foreign trade model over the past year and its role in promoting the quality and efficiency of China's foreign trade? Thank you.

Li Kuiwen:

Thank you for your question. Last year, under the influence of the pandemic, cross-border e-commerce as a new business format achieved rapid development. As an emerging format of trade, cross-border e-commerce has shown positive growth during the pandemic period, and has become an important force in stabilizing foreign trade. China Customs has been actively adapting to and promoting the development of cross-border e-commerce, continuously innovating and optimizing the regulatory system, and supporting the orderly development of new business forms like this. The measures we have taken are:

The first is to comprehensively promote supervision measures for the return of cross-border e-commerce export commodities, optimize e-commerce retail import return measures, solve the problem of difficult returns of export commodities, and fully support enterprises to sell goods to the world. We have also optimized cross-border e-commerce retail import return measures, helped businesses overcome the impact of logistics delays caused by the pandemic, and assisted to improve their after-sales service systems.

The second is to carry out innovative cross-border e-commerce B2B export pilot programs. We have added "9710" and "9810" trade methods, which refer to either direct export of goods from domestic businesses to overseas businesses by cross-border logistics based on their mutual deals over a cross-border e-commerce platform, or the export of goods by a domestic company to its overseas warehouse, from which the goods will be delivered to overseas buyers based on their deals over a cross-border e-commerce platform. We have now launched pilot programs in 22 directly-affiliated customs offices, including in Beijing. We have promoted cross-border e-commerce regulatory innovations from B2C to B2B, with supporting measures to facilitate customs clearance. Pilot enterprises can apply for clearance facilitation measures such as "one-off registration, streamlined declarations, and expedited clearance at lower costs, prior inspection, customs transit, and convenient return."

The third is to expand and clear cross-border e-commerce logistics channels. Affected by the pandemic, international flights were suspended and significantly reduced last year, and the traditional shipping capacity plummeted. The General Administration of Customs promptly issued ten measures to support the development of the China-Europe Railway Express and support its use to carry out cross-border e-commerce, mail, and other transportation services. During the pandemic, customs supported the postal department to open temporary entry and exit postal routes, creating a total of 15 temporary exit ports and 13 temporary entry ports, actively distributing inbound and outbound mail and cross-border e-commerce commodities, and striving to ensure the stability of industrial and supply chains.

The fourth is to make every effort to ensure the orderly customs clearance of cross-border e-commerce commodities during business peak periods such as the "Double 11 Shopping Day." In 2020, cross-border e-commerce grew rapidly, and the import and export lists checked and released through the customs cross-border e-commerce management platform hit 2.45 billion, surging by 63.3% year-on-year. During the "Double 11" period in 2020, 52.27 million import and export lists were processed through the customs cross-border e-commerce unified import and export system, an increase of 25.5% on the previous year. Meanwhile, the processing peak reached 3,407 items per second, an increase of 113.2% year-on-year. All indicators reached new highs.

The fifth is to perfect cross-border e-commerce statistics. In order to fully reflect the overall import and export situation of cross-border e-commerce, the General Administration of Customs has made full use of China's E-commerce Law and the definition of cross-border e-commerce by the World Customs Organization to explore and establish a cross-border e-commerce statistical system. According to preliminary statistics, China's cross-border e-commerce imports and exports in 2020 were 1.69 trillion yuan, an increase of 31.1%, of which exports made up 1.12 trillion yuan, an increase of 40.1%, and imports were 0.57 trillion yuan, an increase of 16.5%.

In the next step, customs will continue to focus on the development of new formats and the concerns of enterprises, continue to strengthen supervision, optimize services, further improve supervision and statistical systems, and continuously promote the high-quality development of new formats of cross-border e-commerce. Thanks.

_ueditor_page_break_tag_

dzwww.com:

We noticed that the private sector has become the largest contributor to China's foreign trade growth. What were the characteristics of import and export for Chinese private businesses in 2020? What new measures will the General Administration of Customs (GAC) introduce to support private businesses in foreign trade? Thank you.

Li Kuiwen:

Thank you for the questions. As I said just now, the private sector has become the largest foreign trade entity in China. In 2020, China's private sector registered 14.98 trillion yuan in imports and exports, an increase of 11.1%, accounting for 46.6% of the country's total foreign trade volume, 3.9 percentage points higher than the previous year. Specifically, exports of the sector grew by 12.3% year-on-year to 9.99 trillion yuan, while imports increased by 8.8% to 4.99 trillion yuan. The main highlights are as follows:

First, the private sector showed greater resilience in foreign trade. In the face of the unexpected COVID-19 epidemic, private businesses rose to the challenge and made full use of their flexibility to explore the international market, showing greater resilience in foreign trade. The annual growth rate of foreign trade and exports in the private sector was 9.2 and 8.3 percentage points higher than that of the country's total volume, respectively. Imports in the sector increased by 8.8% last year, while the country's imports declined by 0.7%.

Second, the development of private businesses in different regions became increasingly coordinated. In 2020, the imports and exports of private businesses in central and western regions grew by 15.9%, 5.6 percentage points higher than in the eastern regions. Nine out of the top 10 provinces with the highest foreign trade growth rates in the private sector are from China's central and western regions. Guizhou and Yunnan occupied the top two positions.

Third, private businesses made more efforts to expand their market. In 2020, private sector exports to the EU, the US, Japan, South Korea, among other traditional markets, grew by 14.9%, 23.4%, 12.9%, and 18.6%, respectively, and exports to the ASEAN increased by 15.1%, all recording double-digit growth.

To support the development of the private sector, the GAC will continue to implement decisions and plans made by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council and work to create a favorable environment for the development of foreign trade in the private sector. We will take measures in three major aspects:

First, improve the efficiency of customs clearance and optimize the business environment at ports. We promote the practice of "declaring import and export goods in advance," upgrade the "two-step" declaration process, and improve the "two-stage access supervision." We further streamline customs clearance procedures, reduce the time of cargo clearance, and lower related costs for enterprises.

Second, earnestly implement every measure to cut taxes and fees. We release preferential tax policies in a timely manner and offer more detailed interpretations to ensure enterprises benefit from the policies. For those enterprises that fall behind with their taxes due to the impact of COVID-19, we extend payment deadlines and exempt or reduce overdue fines. We suspend interest on deferred tax for domestic sales of trade processing enterprises and expand the pilot policy of selective tariffs on domestic sales.

Third, carry out in-depth research and studies in enterprises and offer targeted support. We give full play to the role of the customs service hotline 12360, our online survey system, the WeChat platform for credit management, and coordinators between customs offices and enterprises. By using all of these channels, we aim to better understand the needs and difficulties of enterprises and do our best to offer them targeted assistance regarding tax payments, credit management, and customs clearance, etc.

In the next step, we will continue to work in line with the requirements ordered by the central government on ensuring stability on the six fronts and security in the six areas and introduce a larger number of more targeted policies to support the development of private businesses.

Shou Xiaoli:

In the coming days, we will hold a series of briefings on China's economic performance in 2020, and we welcome your attendance. Today's briefing is hereby concluded. Thank you.

Translated and edited by Zhu Bochen, Li Huiru, Zhang Jiaqi, Zhang Rui, Liu Jianing, Zhang Junmian, Wang Yiming, Yang Xi, Xu Xiaoxuan, Huang Shan, Wang Qian, Lin Liyao, Wang Wei, Xiang Bin, Yuan Fang, Zhang Liying, Wang Zhiyong, and Tom Arnstein. In case of any discrepancy between the English and Chinese texts, the Chinese version is deemed to prevail.

/3    Shou Xiaoli

/3    Li Kuiwen

/3    Group photo