Officials see trade growing this year

Updated: Mar 21, 2023 By ZHONG NAN China Daily Print
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The container terminal in Haikou, Hainan province. [PHOTO by SU BIKUN/FOR CHINA DAILY]

Recovery, flourishing e-commerce, industrial upgrade give China edge

China's foreign trade is set to grow steadily this year, senior government officials reiterated on Monday.

They attributed their positive outlook to the country's strengthened economic conditions, flourishing cross-border e-commerce sector and ongoing industrial upgrade.

Despite facing challenges such as waning global goods demand and high inflation rates in many countries, the number of Chinese companies whose export orders have increased has continued to rise. This trend has been particularly noticeable since late February, said Yu Jianhua, minister of the General Administration of Customs.

Addressing a news conference in Beijing, he said that compared to other countries, China's competitive advantages remain significant. The country's economy is expected to regain momentum and aid the growth of foreign trade this year. The GAC is confident of achieving the trade goals set for this year.

The export value of China's electric vehicles, lithium batteries and solar cells rose at a fast clip during the January-February period. Moreover, 46,000 companies registered as exporters, Customs data showed. This, observers said, indicates businesses' growing confidence in the growth theme of China's foreign trade.

Responding to a media query about the recent piling up of empty containers at Chinese ports, Yu said various factors contributed to the situation: the overproduction of new containers during previous periods; low storage costs at domestic ports; seasonal regularity effect; and the relatively quick return of containers from other places, due to the easing of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions abroad.

The minister noted that a large number of empty containers are ready to move across Chinese ports, showing the international market remains positive about China's export capability in the next phase.

Supported by a complete industrial chain system, and multilateral and bilateral free trade agreements, China's foreign trade exceeded $411.2 billion in February, up 1.3 percent year-on-year, according to the latest Customs data.

In the same month, provinces such as Central China's Hunan province and East China's Jiangxi province saw their exports soar 72 percent and 55.8 percent year-on-year, respectively.

This year, many Chinese exporters have been harnessing the business potential of emerging markets and participating in major trade fairs abroad. They have also deployed resources to develop products with high-end technology, high added value and green transformation characteristics to sustain their exports, said Lin Meng, director of the Modern Supply Chain Research Institute, which is part of the Beijing-based Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.

With China's trade via cross-border e-commerce up nearly 16 percent year-on-year in the first two months of this year, the new mode of international trade will continue to grow vigorously this year, said Sun Yuning, deputy minister of the GAC.

To stabilize China's foreign trade and create more growth opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises, 165 comprehensive cross-border e-commerce pilot zones have been established across the country. Covering 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities on the mainland, they have become important carriers and platforms for the growth of cross-border e-commerce, Sun said.

The GAC is working with all parties concerned to promote the resumption of land border ports. The government has opened freight transportation services at relevant land ports as much as it could in China's border areas, and related channels for passenger transport services are also being resumed in an orderly manner, said Zhao Zenglian, director-general of the GAC's general office.

Zhao said the GAC will promote cooperation with countries and regions participating in the Belt and Road Initiative on the development of a "single window system", and support the exchange and sharing of cross-border trade-related documents, to further cut Customs clearance time for both domestic and foreign companies.

The "single window system" is a metaphor for streamlined administration efforts, and means that all export and import procedures can be done at one stop, a trade facilitation policy that enables faster and easier cargo clearance.


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