SCIO briefing on commerce work and performance in Q1 2024
Beijing | 3 p.m. April 19, 2024

The State Council Information Office held a press conference Friday in Beijing on China's commerce work and performance in the first quarter of 2024.


Guo Tingting, vice minister of commerce

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

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

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

Ji Xiaofeng, a person in charge of the Department of Foreign Investment Administration of the MOFCOM


Xie Yingjun, deputy director general of the Press Bureau of the State Council Information Office (SCIO) and spokesperson of the SCIO

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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

Ms. Ji Xiaofeng, a person in charge of the Department of Foreign Investment Administration of MOFCOM


Mr. Xie Yingjun, deputy director general of the Press Bureau of the State Council Information Office (SCIO) and spokesperson of the SCIO


April 19, 2024

Xie Yingjun:

Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. Welcome to this briefing 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 performance in the first quarter of 2024, and to take your questions. Also present today are 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 Ms. Ji Xiaofeng, a person in charge of the Department of Foreign Investment Administration of MOFCOM.

Now, I'll give the floor to Ms. Guo for her introduction. 

Guo Tingting:

Friends from the media, good afternoon. Thank you for your long-term interest in and support for the commerce work. Now, I'll brief you on China's commerce performance in the first quarter of 2024. It has been widely noted that the national economy got off to a good start in the first quarter, and the performance of commerce was also generally stable with an optimized structure, contributing to sustained economic recovery and growth.  

Consumption remained the primary driving force behind economic growth. In the first quarter, China's gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 5.3% year on year, with final consumption expenditure contributing 73.7% and driving GDP growth by 3.9 percentage points. Sales of upgraded goods saw rapid growth. In the first quarter, total retail sales of consumer goods grew by 4.7%, with retail sales of sports and entertainment products and communication equipment by enterprises above designated size growing by 14.2% and 13.2%, respectively. Service consumption continued to unleash its potential. Consumers' demand for quality and diverse "experiential" consumption constantly rose. In the first quarter, retail sales of services increased by 10%. Catering consumption remained buoyant, growing by 10.8%.

Foreign trade got off to a stable start. In the first quarter, trade in goods reached 10.2 trillion yuan, surpassing the 10-trillion-yuan mark for the first time in a single quarter, and the growth rate stood at 5%, marking a new high for the past six quarters. The contribution rate of net exports to economic growth rose to 14.5%. In terms of goods, exports of mechanical and electrical products grew quickly, exports of labor-intensive products also performed well, and exports of textiles and garments as well as furniture and its components increased by 5.4% and 23.5%, respectively. Driven by domestic demand, imports of energy and integrated circuits grew by 8% and 14.3%, respectively. In terms of markets, emerging markets remained vibrant, with imports from and exports to Belt and Road partner countries growing by 5.5% in the first quarter. Developed markets showed signs of recovery, with growth in imports and exports related to the U.S. increasing by around 5.5 percentage points compared to the same period last year. As for market entities, the number of foreign trade enterprises with import and export records increased by 8.8% in the first quarter, with the number of private enterprises growing by 10.4%, accounting for 85.3% of the total. A recent survey on key foreign trade enterprises conducted by MOFCOM showed that in March, the proportion of enterprises reporting employment increases reached 88.8%, growing by 1.7 percentage points compared to the previous two months. This indicates further strengthened confidence and expectations of enterprises.

In terms of attracting foreign investment, the "Investment in China" series of activities has been enthusiastically received. The inaugural flagship event alone attracted more than 140 representatives from foreign enterprises and business associations across 17 countries and regions. In the first quarter, 12,000 foreign-funded enterprises were newly established, an increase of 20.7%. As for the investment structure, investment in high-tech manufacturing in the first quarter accounted for 12.5%, an increase of 2.2 percentage points compared to the same period last year. Investment in the service industries closely related to people's lives also achieved rapid growth. In terms of the investment scale, utilized foreign investment reached 301.67 billion yuan in the first quarter, remaining at a historically high level.

Outbound investment maintained stable development. In the first quarter, non-financial outbound direct investment reached 242.92 billion yuan, an increase of 12.5%. Investment in the ASEAN and the EU grew rapidly by 36.7% and 34.5%, respectively. Investment in leasing and business services, manufacturing, and the wholesale and retail industry increased by 45.5%, 36.4% and 14.9%, respectively. The value of newly contracted projects stood at 330.64 billion yuan, an increase of 11.9%, with completed turnover reaching 230.13 billion yuan, an increase of 6.1%.

Next, MOFCOM will continue to thoroughly implement the decisions and deployments of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council. Focusing on the three important positions of the commerce work (namely commerce work being an important component of the domestic economy, serving as a vital link between the domestic and international economic flows, and playing a crucial role in creating a new development pattern), we will strive to continue to expand consumption, ensure the overall stable performance of foreign trade and foreign investment, and promote high-level opening-up. We will also take multiple measures to advance high-quality development of commerce, thus providing strong support for achieving higher-quality economic growth and appropriately increasing economic output.

That's all for my introduction. Now, my colleagues and I are ready to answer your questions. Thank you. 


Xie Yingjun:

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

China Financial and Economic News:

The 135th China Import and Export Fair is currently being held. Could you please describe the current situation at the Canton Fair? Thank you.

Guo Tingting:

Thank you for your attention to the Canton Fair. The 135th Canton Fair is currently being held. Recently, Chinese Premier Li Qiang inspected the fair and presided over two consecutive symposiums, engaging in in-depth exchanges with overseas buyers and representatives from firms participating in the fair. This fully reflects the significant importance the CPC Central Committee and the State Council attach to the Canton Fair and foreign trade.

We will fully implement the decisions and deployments of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council to ensure the success of the Canton Fair. This aims to provide more high-quality products for consumers worldwide, offer more cooperation opportunities for enterprises globally, and inject new momentum into the recovery of the global economy and trade.

Today is also the last day of the first phase of the 135th Canton Fair, which has been characterized by four main features in terms of exhibitor and participant attendance as well as negotiations.

First, there has been a high attendance of overseas buyers. As of yesterday, approximately 120,000 overseas buyers attended the fair, marking a 22.7% increase over the previous session. Second, the composition of exhibitors has been further optimized. The number of national-level high-tech enterprises and specialized single-product manufacturers attending the first phase increased by 33% compared to the previous session. The number of high-tech enterprises involved in smart living, the "new three" (namely electric vehicles, lithium-ion batteries, and solar cells), and industrial automation rose by 24.4%. Third, the exhibits have better reflected the development of new quality productive forces. Over 90,000 AI products were displayed during the first phase of the fair, and transactions involving industrial automation equipment and new energy vehicles significantly increased, with some even doubling from the previous session. Fourth, the functionality of online platforms has been further improved. The online platforms of the fair continue to operate regularly. Up to yesterday, about 294,000 buyers from 229 countries and regions participated in the fair online.

I would also like to extend another invitation to our media friends here. The Canton Fair will continue with its second and third phases, which will be held in Guangzhou from April 23 to 27 and May 1 to 5, respectively. These phases will showcase consumer goods, gifts, decorations, textiles, and other products. We welcome everyone to continue following and providing in-depth coverage of the fair. Thank you.


Jimu News:

Economic and trade cooperation is an important part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). What achievements has China made in deepening economic and trade cooperation with its BRI partners in the first quarter? What are the highlights?

Yang Tao:

Since the beginning of this year, the Ministry of Commerce has thoroughly implemented the guiding principles of General Secretary Xi Jinping's important speeches on BRI cooperation and earnestly implemented the eight major steps to support high-quality Belt and Road cooperation. It has continued to deepen economic and trade cooperation with BRI partners. Some new progress and achievements have been made in this regard, which are mainly reflected in the following four aspects:

First, economic and trade cooperation got off to a good start. In the first quarter, China's trade in goods with BRI partners exceeded 4.8 trillion yuan, an increase of 5.5%, 0.5 percentage point higher than the overall growth rate of foreign trade, accounting for 47.4% of total imports and exports. In terms of exported goods, there are not only high-tech products related to enterprise production, such as electronic information, instruments, apparatus, and equipment manufacturing, but also consumer products that meet everyday needs, like household appliances and clothing. Regarding imports, we actively share the opportunities of China's enormous market with our BRI partners. China's imports of industrial products from its BRI partners, including energy and mineral products, integrated circuits, and auto parts, continued to increase in the first quarter.

Second, outbound investment saw steady growth. In the first quarter, China's non-financial direct investment in BRI partners reached 54.32 billion yuan, an increase of 12%, accounting for 22.4% of total outbound investment in the same period. China's investment in RCEP countries increased by 33.5%, and its investment in Central and Eastern European countries increased by 41.3%, both significantly higher than the overall growth rate of outbound investment.

Third, for project construction, we have ensured stability while improving quality. In the first quarter, the turnover of China's contracted projects in BRI countries reached 184.6 billion yuan, an increase of 7.9%. Cooperation projects have also become more environmentally friendly. In the first quarter, the turnover from energy conservation and environmental protection projects increased by 18.4%, 12 percentage points higher than the segment's overall revenue growth. For example, we have completed a number of photovoltaic power station projects in the Middle East, West Asia, Central Asia, and other regions, which will provide green and clean energy to the local areas.

Fourth, the development of cooperation mechanisms has accelerated. In terms of free trade agreement negotiations, we successfully held the fifth round of negotiations on Version 3.0 of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (FTA) and signed an early harvest arrangement for the China-Honduras Free Trade Agreement (FTA). In terms of cooperation in emerging areas, we signed six memorandums of investment cooperation in green, blue, and other fields with the United Arab Emirates, Angola, and the Maldives. In terms of exhibition platforms, the recently concluded fourth China International Consumer Products Expo and the 135th Canton Fair have attracted many exhibitors from BRI partners. Exhibitors from BRI partners participating in the Canton Fair increased by 46%, and companies from partner countries accounted for 64% of the participants in the import exhibition of the fair.

Next, we will implement the decisions and plans of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council and strive to ensure that the economic and trade cooperation established at the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation delivers results. Efforts will also be made to enhance cooperation in trade and investment, project construction, and emerging areas, to provide robust support to deepen and solidify BRI cooperation. Thank you.


Cover News:

This year, China launched a year-long program to stimulate consumption. The first quarter has ended. What trends have been observed in the consumer market? What measures will the Ministry of Commerce take to promote consumption? Thank you.

Xu Xingfeng:

Thank you for your interest in our efforts to promote consumer spending. Ms. Guo has already briefed us about the consumer market's contribution to economic growth in the first quarter, so I will not repeat it here. Regarding your question about the new characteristics of the consumer market, they can be summarized as follows:  

First, growth has been stable. This is primarily reflected in bulk consumption such as automobiles, home appliances, and home furnishing. In the first quarter, new car sales grew 10.6% year on year to 6.72 million, including new energy vehicles, which increased by 31.8% year on year. Retail sales of home appliances by businesses above designated size grew 5.8% year on year, 1.1 percentage points higher than total retail sales. The building materials sector also saw a positive turnaround, with the growth rate of retail sales increasing from -7.8% at the end of last year to 2.4% in the first quarter.

Second, demand has been strong, particularly evident in service consumption. In the first quarter, retail sales of services grew by 10.0% year on year, six percentage points higher than goods. Per capita consumption expenditure on services grew by 12.7% year on year, accounting for 43.3% of per capita consumption expenditure. Catering revenue grew by 10.8% year on year to 1.34 trillion yuan.

Third, there have been multiple highlights, mainly reflected in new types of consumer spending. In the first quarter, China's online retail sales totaled 3.3 trillion yuan, up 12.4% year on year. Online retail sales of physical goods rose 11.6% to 2.8 trillion yuan, contributing 23.3% to China's total retail sales. The concept of green consumption has also gained popularity among consumers, with sales of green and organic food by key retail enterprises monitored by the ministry growing by about 14% year on year.

These are the three major characteristics of the consumer market in the first quarter: stable growth in bulk consumption, strong demand for services, and multiple highlights in new types of consumer spending.

China has launched a year-long program to stimulate consumption this year, as outlined in the government work report. Following the decisions and plans of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, we actively promote relevant work. The overall approach involves adopting relevant policies and organizing activities to promote consumption. Regarding policies, we will adopt a problem-oriented approach, focusing on addressing bottlenecks and difficulties in the circulation sector. We will introduce a series of policies to boost consumer confidence. We have already introduced policies concerning trade-in of consumer goods, digital consumption, catering consumption, rural e-commerce, and recycling of renewable resources. Moving forward, we will continue to focus on the development of international consumption center cities, the innovative development of service consumption, and the construction of a modern commercial circulation system, and we will continue to introduce relevant policy measures.

In terms of activities, as previously introduced to the press, we are organizing a series of pro-consumption activities throughout the year to benefit all. We will arrange weekly scenarios, monthly events, and seasonal themes. When organizing these activities, we focus on four aspects. First, we organize activities during festivals and holidays. For example, we have already held pro-consumption events during the Spring Festival and Qingming Festival, and plan to organize such events during the upcoming May Day holiday as well, with enriched festive atmosphere. Second, we are emphasizing the integrated development of industries. Everyone knows that various sectors, including commerce, tourism, culture, sports and health, are moving toward integrated development. Following the Spring Festival, the 110th China Food and Drinks Fair was held in Chengdu, mixing exhibitions with tourism, music, and gourmet food to promote consumption in different scenarios. Third, we are highlighting key product categories. For key products related to trade-ins for old consumer goods, such as automobiles, home appliances and home furnishing, we will continue to carry out promotional activities. Fourth, we are emphasizing local characteristics. For example, Beijing's consumption season highlights local culture and cuisine, while Guangxi's "33 Consumption Festival" has fully integrated local ethnic cultures. Meanwhile, Fujian's pro-consumption campaign has showcased local cultural heritage. Thank you. 



The World Trade Organization (WTO) has published full-year data on merchandise trade for 2023. China stabilized its market share in imports and exports, maintaining its position as the world's largest nation in goods trade for the seventh consecutive year. How does the Ministry of Commerce view the current foreign trade situation and its future outlook? Thank you.

Guo Tingting:

Thank you for your question. In 2023, despite facing multiple difficulties and challenges, China withstood pressure and maintained its size and market share in foreign trade, showing strong growth resilience. China has remained the top trading country in goods for the seventh straight year. In 2023, its share of world exports stood at 14.2%, the same as in 2022. The country's share of world imports reached 10.6%, slightly higher than in 2022. In the first quarter of this year, China's imports and exports of goods rose by 5%, maintaining steady recovery and growth. Achieving such results amid slower global trade growth was no easy feat.

Looking ahead to the next phase of foreign trade, we generally feel that there are both opportunities and challenges. The opportunities can be summarized into the following three positives aspects:

First, the domestic economy's recovery and growth have been boosted, establishing a solid foundation. Foreign trade performance is closely related to the domestic economy. In the first quarter, the national economy grew by 5.3%, and the value added of industrial enterprises above designated size increased by 6.1%. This provides a solid foundation for consolidating the fundamentals of foreign trade.

Second, business expectations continue to improve, with increasing confidence. In March, the Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for China's manufacturing sector reached 50.8%, re-entering the expansion zone. A recent survey of over 20,000 exhibitors at the Canton Fair showed that 81.5% of the respondents reported an increase or stability in their order books, a 16.8 percentage point increase compared to the previous session. Enterprises are relatively optimistic about their order situations and are more actively exploring international markets.

Third, key industries are stabilizing and showing positive momentum, with increasing strength. After a downward cycle lasting two years, the electronic information industry is gradually recovering in terms of trade in its main products. In the first quarter, China's integrated circuit industry grew by 24.2%, imports increased by 14.3%, and exports of computers and components grew by 8.6%. This also demonstrates our capabilities in industrial support and integration.

From the perspective of challenges, they are notably reflected in three areas:

First, there is a slowdown in the expected growth of external demand. Recently, the World Trade Organization released its "Global Trade Outlook and Statistics" report, lowering the projected growth rate of world merchandise trade volume for 2024 to 2.6%, 0.7 percentage point lower than the forecast in October last year.

Second, the risks from geopolitical conflicts are increasing. The Ukraine crisis has experienced prolonged fluctuations, the impact of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict continues to spill over, and the blockade of the Red Sea route has already altered global shipping patterns, thereby increasing risks to oil supply. Additionally, this year is a "super election year" globally, bringing various uncertainties.

Third, there is a rising trend of trade protectionism. In our surveys and discussions with foreign trade enterprises, many of them have expressed that certain countries are politicizing trade issues, establishing trade barriers, and disrupting global industrial and supply chain stability. As a result, enterprises face increased interference and greater difficulties in market development.

Currently, in accordance with the decisions and plans of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, the Ministry of Commerce is actively collaborating with local governments and departments to develop and implement a series of targeted, practical and effective measures to support stable foreign trade. These measures are designed to enhance the capabilities of foreign trade enterprises and expand their market presence. We are confident in our ability to achieve this year's goals of improving quality, increasing quantity, and ensuring the stability of foreign trade. We are committed to contributing to the promotion of sustained economic recovery and long-term development. Thank you.


China Daily:

In recent years, we have observed changes in the structure of China's export products. How does the Ministry of Commerce view the issue of trade structure, and what is the outlook for trade growth this year? Thank you.

Li Xingqian:

Thank you for your questions. In recent years, the structure of China's exports has been undergoing optimization and upgrading. In terms of product structure, there has been positive momentum in exporting high-tech, high value-added, and environmentally friendly products that are driving green and low-carbon transformation. Taking the "new trio" of electric vehicles, lithium-ion batteries, and photovoltaic products as examples, their combined exports grew by 88.4% in 2022 and increased by 27.6% in 2023, surpassing 1 trillion yuan in export scale. At the same time, we see many Chinese foreign trade enterprises focusing on enhancing their independent research and development capabilities and advancing digitalization, smart transformation, and green transformation. This has led to the formation of an innovation advantage in China's manufacturing industry.

From the perspective of trade modes, the proportion of China's general trade exports has continued to increase, reaching 64.6% in 2023. This reflects the ongoing enhancement of China's independent development capabilities in foreign trade. The processing trade is transitioning from traditional manufacturing processes to higher value-added activities like design and maintenance. In 2023, high-tech products accounted for 53% of China's total exports in the processing trade.

From the perspective of market distribution, our trading partners have become more diverse. In 2023, the proportion of China's exports to emerging markets rose to 55.3%. We have also strengthened trade ties with countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative. In the first quarter of this year, the proportion of exports to these countries further increased to 46.7%.

Considering the export performance of the first quarter, we see three sectors with innovative vitality and potential for sustained growth.

First, the foundation for exports of complete sets of equipment is robust. Chinese industries, such as automotive and equipment manufacturing, have consolidated innovative achievements along both long and complete industrial chains. If some components or functional systems are considered individually, they are full of creativity and technological sophistication. I'll briefly mention two examples: in-car voice systems in automobiles are rapidly advancing toward the domain of AI. Meanwhile, forklifts commonly used in factories and warehouse logistics are progressively becoming electrified and unmanned, undergoing iterative upgrades.

Second, the demand for smart products is growing. Chinese export products increasingly employ special and sophisticated technologies to produce novel and unique products, delving deeper into segmented fields. Smart products, such as robots, are favored by consumers. In the household appliance sector, there has been an emergence of floor-cleaning robots, pool-cleaning robots, lawn-mowing robots, and high-rise building window-cleaning robots in response to demand, each featuring its own advanced technology. In the field of industrial robots, China is also an important exporter and application market. According to statistics from the International Federation of Robotics, the annual average growth rate of robot installations in China from 2017 to 2022 was 13%. Customs data indicate that China's industrial robot exports increased by 86.4% in 2023.

Third, low-carbon, energy-saving, and environmentally friendly products are highly popular. Currently, environmentally friendly food trays and straws made from biodegradable materials have replaced disposable plastic products and become the market's mainstream choice. Biodegradable tableware made from bagasse is well-received in exports, resulting in bagasse becoming more expensive than sugarcane. In some areas, such as air-source heat pump equipment, which is more energy-efficient, it can save energy by 75% compared to traditional electric heating or coal-fired boilers. These products are selling well in the European market. New textile fabrics that can be dyed without water save water and energy in the dyeing process and do not emit wastewater, which customers deeply appreciate.

At the same time, we need to recognize that traditional labor-intensive products still hold competitive advantages. In the first quarter, China's export of labor-intensive products increased by 9.1% year on year; among them, exports of textiles and garments, plastic products, and furniture and parts grew by 5.4%, 14%, and 23.5%, respectively. "Made in China" is currently evolving into "Created in China." New export growth poles will continue to emerge, and we are confident in achieving this year's goals of steadily increasing the volume and enhancing the quality of foreign trade. Thank you.


CMG Voice of China: 

Since last year, data on China's foreign investment attraction have shown certain fluctuations. How does the Ministry of Commerce view the current situation of investment attraction? What further steps will be taken? Thank you.

Ji Xiaofeng: 

Thank you for your questions. From the perspective of overall global, transnational investment and the economic situation in various countries, fluctuations in FDI are a normal phenomenon. To comprehensively assess the situation of foreign investment attraction in China, we need to consider not just changes in scale but, more importantly, the optimization of the structure and its prospects.

First, let's consider changes in the scale of investment attraction. In the first quarter of this year, China attracted over 300 billion yuan in foreign investment. During the same period last year, China reached its highest quarterly volume of foreign investment attraction. There has been a slight decrease this year due to the impact of a high base. Additionally, in the first quarter of this year, China saw the establishment of 12,000 new foreign-funded businesses, an increase of 20.7% year on year, maintaining the trend of rapid growth in new enterprises since last year. Foreign investment typically involves a process from project signing and company registration to construction completion and operation commencement. As foreign capital arrives progressively with the pace of project construction, fluctuations in data during this process are commonly observed. The increase in the number of new enterprises is an indicator and will support future investment inflows.

Second, let's consider the optimization of the investment structure. In the first quarter of this year, the utilized foreign investment in China's manufacturing industry reached 81.06 billion yuan, with 37.76 billion yuan being attracted to the high-tech manufacturing sector. Both figures accounted for a higher proportion of total investment attraction than in the same period last year, increasing by 2.3 and 2.2 percentage points, respectively. Investment attraction growth in some advanced manufacturing sectors has also been relatively fast. For example, attracted investment in the medical equipment manufacturing industry remarkably increased by 169.7% year on year, fully demonstrating the continuous optimization of China's investment attraction structure.

The basic trend of China's economic recovery and long-term improvement generally remains unchanged. With the continuous advancement of China's new quality productive forces and the gradual effects of a series of policies aimed at stabilizing the economy, promoting openness, and attracting foreign investment, the conditions and environment for foreign investment in China are expected to continue improving. Recently, the American management consulting firm Kearney's Global Business Policy Council released its 2024 Foreign Direct Investment Confidence Index (FDICI). In this index, China rose from seventh to third place last year, reflecting multinational corporations' continued willingness to expand their investments in China.

Next, MOFCOM will thoroughly implement the arrangements of the Central Economic Work Conference and the government work report, mainly advancing our work in five areas. First, we will relax foreign investment access. We will downsize the negative list for foreign investment access in a reasonable way, comprehensively abolishing access restrictions in the manufacturing sector and easing market access in the medical, telecommunications and other service sectors. We will also revise the catalogue of industries for encouraging foreign investment, add and supplement encouraging items, and provide broader space for foreign investment in China by "reducing restrictions and increasing incentives." Second, we will enhance investment promotion. We will ensure the success of major events with the theme of "Invest in China," strengthen our promotional efforts at abroad to attract foreign investment, boost targeted investment in areas such as advanced manufacturing, strategic emerging industries, digital and intelligent technologies, and green technologies, and continuously optimize the industrial structure of foreign investment. Third, we will strengthen services and support. We will leverage the role of special task forces for crucial foreign-funded projects, make good use of roundtable discussions for foreign-funded enterprises as well as the system for collecting and handling their issues and demands, communicate with these enterprises in a candid and practical manner, and promptly address their difficulties and problems. Fourth, we will build open platforms. We will align with international high-standard economic and trade rules, implement the plan to deepen the construction of the Integrated National Demonstration Zone for Opening up the Services Sector, and introduce a new round of open and innovative policy measures in other pilot provinces and municipalities in due course. As a series of activities will be held this year to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the first batch of national economic and technological development zones, we will promote the innovation and upgrading of these zones and strengthen their role as platforms for attracting investment. Fifth, we will optimize the investment environment. Recently, the "24 Measures for Foreign Investment" have been continuously implemented, including policies to promote cross-border data flow and to optimize payment services, which have been widely praised by foreign-funded enterprises. Next, we will continue to promote the implementation of these measures, conduct another evaluation on it in due course, and truly transform policy measures into tangible benefits for foreign-funded enterprises. Thank you.


Nanfang Daily, Nanfang Plus:

Recently, MOFCOM and other departments released the Action Plan to Facilitate and Encourage Trade-ins of Consumer Goods. Could you please elaborate on how this action plan will be implemented? And what tangible benefits can ordinary consumers expect from this plan?

Xu Xingfeng:

Thank you for your interest in trade-ins of consumer goods. With the approval of the State Council, MOFCOM and 13 other departments issued the action plan and held a work promotion meeting jointly with relevant departments. We are working together with other departments and local governments to promptly implement the plan. Currently, Guangdong, Zhejiang, Shandong, Hunan, Shanxi and other regions have already issued detailed measures. Automobile, home appliances and furnishing companies involved in trade-ins have responded positively and launched preferential packages. We are also organizing local events, as part of the "National Campaign on Consumer Goods Trade-ins," across the country to make the policy widely known. The first event was launched in Haikou during the 4th China International Consumer Products Expo. We will work with relevant departments to specify policy measures and improve operational procedures as soon as possible, in a bid to make the process simpler and more precise.

You are concerned about the benefits consumers can expect from trade-ins. The action plan is a major decision made by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, and we are actively promoting its implementation. As trade-ins involve millions of households and the vital interest of the people, we respect consumers' wishes and respond to their demands in policy design, aiming to give them a sense of gain. The benefits are reflected in the following aspects.

When it comes to automobiles, selling or scrapping an old car and buying a new one is an action by the people. We will expand and extend this point throughout the entire chain of automobile circulation and consumption, aiming to make our citizens more satisfied. Specifically, the first thing is that buying cars will be more cost-effective. Currently, companies are responding actively and offering promotional discounts. Policy packages and a combination of measures will be introduced, offering benefits from various aspects such as finance, taxation, credit and insurance to reduce the cost of buying cars, making them more affordable. Second, more convenient services will be provided for the people to use cars. We will improve infrastructure such as charging stations, parking facilities and intelligent transportation. We will carry out pilot reforms on automobile circulation and consumption, supporting the development of industries focused on car modification, leasing, RV camping, sports events and classic cars. Third, selling cars will be more worry free. We will advance nationwide efforts to rescind all local policies that restrict sales of non-local second-hand vehicles, in order to stimulate demand for second-hand cars and enable car owners to sell their cars at more satisfactory prices. A second-hand car information inquiry platform will be established to make car information more transparent and car prices more reasonable, allowing people to buy second-hand cars with the same confidence as buying a new one. Consumers will be happier if they can buy used cars with better conditions and more guaranteed after-sales services at the same price. Fourth, it will be more convenient to scrap cars. The final step in automobile circulation is scrapping. We encourage dismantling companies to collect cars door-to-door so that it's more convenient for car owners to surrender their to-be-scrapped vehicles for disposal. Overall, it will be more cost-effective for consumers to buy cars, and more convenient services will be provided for them to use, sell and scrap cars.

In terms of home appliances, home furnishing and decoration: First, we will prioritize the convenience of consumption. People have no place to put old furniture they want to keep, there is no one to collect household appliances that people want to throw away, and people do not have anywhere to stay temporarily when renovating their homes: these are all difficulties facing ordinary people in their daily lives. We will encourage the creation of "storage rooms," "recycling stations" and "relocation houses," as well as "internet + recycling" and "one-stop collection of old items, delivery of new ones, disassembly and assembly" to take the worry out of renovation. Second, we will prioritize information transparency. Nowadays, people are living healthier lives and want green building materials, while elderly people require senior-friendly renovations. However, some consumers do not know which building materials are green and which elderly-friendly products are up to the mark. We will work with relevant departments to initiate activities to introduce green building materials into rural areas, dynamically improve the catalog of elderly-friendly home furnishings, and promote "demonstration home decoration rooms" within shopping malls, communities and platforms so that consumers can obtain information through multiple channels. Third, we will prioritize smart technologies and convenience, with a focus on smart homes. Nowadays, smart homes are rapidly developing and have entered thousands of households. However, there is still insufficient compatibility between smart products of different brands, and sometimes people have too many remote controls. Next, we will work with relevant departments to speed up the improvement of compatibility standards and promote the application of smart products in more living scenarios. Fourth, we will prioritize living environment optimizations. We will organize and carry out actions to promote safe home improvements in communities and improve after-sales service for home appliances, so as to boost satisfaction and confidence in consumption.

Next, we will continue to listen widely to opinions and suggestions of various parties, and do our best so that consumers can get genuine benefits. We also welcome friends from the media and consumers to supervise the implementation and effects of the policies. Thank you. 


The Poster News APP:

MOFCOM has established a roundtable mechanism for foreign-funded enterprises, and organized and convened a number of roundtable meetings for foreign enterprises this year. Could you please introduce the results of the roundtable meetings for foreign enterprises in providing them with service guarantees? What are the plans going forward?

Ji Xiaofeng:

Thank you for your questions and interest in the roundtable events. In accordance with the plans of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, in July 2023, MOFCOM relied on the foreign trade and investment coordination service mechanism to upgrade and establish a roundtable meeting system for foreign-funded enterprises to further strengthen regular communication and exchanges with foreign-funded enterprises and foreign business associations. The roundtable meetings do not set restrictions and foreign companies are encouraged to speak freely. After the meetings, the problems and demands reported by the companies are compiled and managed with follow-ups on the results, which has been highly praised by foreign-funded companies. Overall, the roundtable meetings have played three kinds of roles:

First, the roundtable meetings built unimpeded channels of expression and fully listened to the opinions and suggestions of enterprises. So far, MOFCOM has held 24 roundtable meetings for foreign-funded enterprises, with more than 600 foreign-funded enterprises and foreign business associations participating. To date, nine meetings have been held this year, including roundtable meetings held overseas to communicate with foreign companies in Germany, France and Denmark, and roundtable meetings held domestically and themed around such fields as medicine and consumer goods. At the roundtable meetings, MOFCOM, together with relevant departments, acquired detailed understandings of the issues, demands, opinions and suggestions of foreign-invested enterprises from various countries and industries, through face-to-face, point-to-point consultation, providing an important reference for formulating policies and optimizing services.

Second, the roundtable meetings have strengthened policy interpretation and fully publicized China's business environment. Since last year, we have relied on activities such as roundtable meetings to explain comprehensive policies, such as the 24 specific pro-foreign investment measures and the new action plan issued by the General Office of the State Council to attract foreign investment, special policies targeting cross-border flows of data and environmental protection, and regional opening-up policies including the ones for promoting integrated economic development of Chengdu and Chongqing. These efforts allow foreign-funded enterprises to have a more comprehensive and in-depth understanding of China's major policies and measures and fully seize new investment opportunities in China.

Third, the roundtable meetings have adhered to a problem-oriented approach and coordinated efforts to resolve pressing difficulties and problems. Based on the pains and difficulties reported by foreign-funded enterprises at the roundtable meetings, MOFCOM established a list of issues and worked with relevant departments to tackle the problems. The establishment of the roundtable mechanism has promoted multiple departments to introduce measures to benefit enterprises, including facilitating foreigners to come to China, outlining clear requirements for cross-border flows of data, and extending preferential policies on tax-deductible allowances and subsidies for foreign nationals in accordance with relevant national regulations.

Moving forward, MOFCOM will give further play to the role of the foreign investment enterprise roundtable meeting system, and build the roundtable meetings into an important platform for candid communication, pragmatic exchanges and problem-solving between the government and enterprises. Thank you.

Xie Yingjun:

The final question, please.


China News Service:

Green and digital transitions represent new driving forces and emerging trends in foreign trade development. Could you please elaborate on the specific manifestations of these eco-friendly and digital practices in the current foreign trade landscape? What measures will the Ministry of Commerce take to further enhance green and digital transitions? Thank you.

Li Xingqian:

Thank you for your questions. Green and digital transitions are shaping the direction and future of international trade development, serving as pivotal drivers for innovation and structural upgrading in foreign trade.

In terms of promoting green trade development, Chinese foreign trade enterprises are at the forefront of global carbon reduction practices and actively promote the development of green and low-carbon products and services. In the design, research and development phase, Chinese foreign trade enterprises carry out green product evaluation and certification based on green design product standards, emphasizing emissions reduction, low carbon, and recyclability of the products. During raw material procurement, recyclable resources and degradable materials are increasingly used in foreign trade products. In the manufacturing process, Chinese enterprises actively participate in trading of green electricity and green certificates, strengthen energy conservation and carbon reduction management, and conduct technological process improvements, so as to reduce the carbon footprint of foreign trade products. Taking Zhejiang province as an example. In the first quarter of this year, Zhejiang's green certificate trading volume was equivalent to 5.94 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity. In the logistics and warehousing sector, an increasing number of enterprises have begun to use new energy heavy-duty trucks and ships for transportation, which helps reduce carbon emissions in foreign trade transportation and delivery.

In the field of green development, we need to accomplish tasks in four aspects. First, we need to focus on popularization. We should provide training for enterprises, explain regulations, and interpret policies to enhance the green and low-carbon awareness and development abilities of foreign trade enterprises. Second, we need to build a platform. We need to provide a regular public service platform for society. Third, we should promote typical examples. We need to select typical cases nationwide and promote experiences and practices. Fourth, we need to foster cooperation. We should strengthen communication and consultations through bilateral and multilateral channels to expand the market space for green products.

In terms of enhancing the level of digitalization in trade, digital technologies are currently penetrating the entire process and various phases of trade, injecting new impetus into the development of international trade. In the production phase, traditional production lines have been upgraded and transformed with intelligent technology, significantly improving customized, low-volume production capabilities. In the marketing stage, digital technology helps our foreign trade enterprises accurately target customers, lower transaction costs, and enhance their ability to expand markets and cultivate brands. In the logistics phase, after digitalization, by using electronic trade documents, the document processing speed has been significantly improved by 80%, and the operating cost has been reduced by 30%. For customer services, Chinese foreign trade enterprises have been using remote supporting tools and conducting smart diagnosis, which greatly improved the efficiency of after-sales services such as preparing spare parts and distribution. In addition, we collaborate with relevant departments to promote digital upgrades in various aspects of trade, including improving customs clearance efficiency and providing more convenient financing support for foreign trade enterprises.

In the field of trade digitalization, we need to focus on four key areas. First, we should encourage more trade entities to use electronic trade documents and promote interconnectivity between enterprises on the document platform. Second, we need to accelerate the building of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area as a pilot zone for global trade digitalization and explore connectivity of digital infrastructure, rules and standards to speed up the digital integration of the entire trade chain. Third, we need to nurture leading enterprises in digital transformation, and provide digital solutions for small- and medium-sized enterprises. Fourth, we will leverage bilateral and multilateral platforms to strengthen digital trade cooperation with our trading partners, and jointly explore more application scenarios of digitalization in the trade sector. Thanks.

Xie Yingjun:

Thank you to all the speakers and journalists. Today's press conference is hereby concluded. Goodbye.

Translated and edited by Xu Xiaoxuan, Huang Shan, Yan Xi, Zhang Junmian, Cui Can, Liu Sitong, Liu Caiyi, Li Huiru, Mi Xingang, Zhang Rui, Wang Ziteng, Wang Wei, Yan Bin, Yan Xiaoqing, David Ball, Jay Birbeck, and Rochelle Beiersdorfer. In case of any discrepancy between the English and Chinese texts, the Chinese version is deemed to prevail.

/7    Xie Yingjun

/7    Guo Tingting

/7    Yang Tao

/7    Xu Xingfeng

/7    Li Xingqian

/7    Ji Xiaofeng

/7    Group photo