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Regular Press Conference of MOFCOM (23 December 2022)

Shu Jueting: Friends from the press, good afternoon. Welcome to the regular press conference of MOFCOM. I’d like to start with a briefing.

1. China’s FDI in the first 11 months of 2022

In the first 11 months of 2022, China’s paid-in FDI reached RMB1.15609 trillion, up 9.9% on a comparable basis, equivalent to USD178.08 billion, up 12.2%

In terms of industries, paid-in FDI to the service sector reached RMB842.61 billion, up 0.9%. Paid-in FDI to high-tech industries grew by 31.1%, including a 58.8% growth in high-tech manufacturing and a 23.5% growth in high-tech services industries.

In terms of sources, paid-in FDI from ROK, Germany, UK and Japan increased by 122.1%, 52.6%, 33.1% and 26.6% respectively (including investments through free ports).

From the regional distribution, paid-in FDI to the eastern, central and western regions of China increased by 7.7%, 28.6% and 24.6% respectively.

2. On China’s outbound investment in the first 11 months of 2022

From January to November 2022, China's outward non-financial direct investment reached RMB687.86 billion yuan, up 7.4% (equivalent to USD102.66 billion, up 3.6%). Among them, USD34.37 billion flowed to leasing and business services, up 14.3% year-on-year; investments to manufacturing, wholesale and retail, construction and other fields were all on the rise. Non-financial direct investment in Belt and Road partner countries reached USD19.16 billion, up 6.5%, accounting for 18.7% of the total ODI for the same period.

From January to November, business revenue from overseas contracted projects reached RMB893.39 billion, up 4.3% (equivalent to USD133.33 billion, up 0.6%); newly signed contracts were worth 1.31097 trillion yuan, up 0.6% (equivalent to USD195.66 billion, down 3%). In Belt and Road partner countries, business revenue from overseas contracted projects reached USD71.95 billion, newly signed contracts reached USD98.19 billion, accounting for 54% and 50.2% of the total, respectively.

This is my briefing. Now I open the floor to questions.

The floor is open.

Economic Information Daily: The recent Central Economic Work Conference proposed greater efforts to attract and utilize foreign investment. What specific steps will the Ministry of Commerce take to expand opening up and better attract and utilize foreign investment in 2023?

Shu Jueting: The report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China has made a strategic plan for the next five years and even a longer period to promote high-level opening up. The recent Central Economic Work Conference has made specific arrangements to implement the spirit of the 20th CPC National Congress and called for greater efforts to attract and utilize foreign investment in 2023. The Ministry of Commerce will resolutely follow through the requirements of the 20th CPC National Congress and the Central Economic Work Conference, give first priority to stability and pursue progress on the basis of stability, stabilize the FDI stock, promote growth, improve the quality, and constantly improve the quality and level of foreign investment through multiple measures.

First, we will continue to expand opening up. We will shorten the negative list on foreign investment, further relax the access threshold, and increase the opening up of modern service industries. We will actively push for the accession to high-standard economic and trade agreements such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement, and take the initiative to steadily expand the institution-based opening up in alignment with relevant rules, regulations, management and standards. We will further promote pilot projects in the opening up platforms including the pilot free trade zones, free trade port, pilot programs for greater openness in the service sector, and national economic development zones, and accelerate the replication and promotion of experience gained in the pilot projects. Recently, the State Council approved new pilot programs in six cities for greater openness in the services sector. We will work with the relevant localities to implement the pilot policies to deliver their intended effects as early as possible.

Second, we will continue to optimize the structure of foreign investment. We will ensure the implementation of the new version of the Catalogue of Encouraged Industries for Foreign Investment and policies on manufacturing, research and development centers to channel foreign investment into advanced manufacturing, modern services, energy conservation and environmental protection industries, science and technology innovation and other key areas. We will optimize the structure of foreign investment in different regions. While consolidating the advantages of the eastern coastal areas in attracting foreign investment, we will enhance the ability of the central and western and northeastern regions to attract investment.

Third, we will continue to step up investment promotion and service support. We will make good use of the foreign trade and foreign investment coordination mechanism and the special task force for major foreign-invested projects, strengthen regular communication with foreign enterprises and business associations, help solve the difficulties in their operation and project construction in a timely manner, and provide greater convenience for foreign investors to engage in trade and investment in China. We will leverage the role of bilateral investment promotion mechanisms, and investment promotion agencies at all levels, etc., to continue to carry out investment promotion activities such as promoting the CIIE in localities and bringing multinational corporations to localities, provide support for local investment promotion activities, and speed up the implementation and construction of landmark foreign investment projects.

Fourth, we will continue to optimize the business environment. We will deepen the implementation of the Foreign Investment Law, continue to abolish measures inconsistent with the Foreign Investment Law. We will ensure that foreign invested enterprises’ access to national treatment. Focusing on the outstanding issues reported by foreign-invested enterprises, we will work with the relevant ministries to study and introduce policies and initiatives to ensure equal participation of foreign-invested enterprises in government procurement, bidding, and standard-setting, and enhance the protection of intellectual property rights and the legitimate rights and interests of foreign-invested enterprises. We will strive to foster an enabling business environment that is based on market principles, governed by law, and aligned with world-class international standards. Thank you.

CNR: Local governments are helping foreign trade companies “go abroad” to negotiate new deals, boost trade and expand markets. What’s MOFCOM’s comments? Will there be more measures to help foreign trade businesses “go global”?

Shu Jueting: At present, foreign trade is in a complex and challenging situation. Many foreign trade companies see decreasing on-hand orders, and export of some labor-intensive products is severely impacted. In light of this situation, local governments have taken various measures to help companies overcome these problems. To support foreign trade companies in trade promotion supplier-buyer matchmaking, and to make greater efforts to maintain the scale and improve the structure of foreign trade, MOFCOM will continue to provide guidance to local authorities in three aspects.

First, facilitating business travels. MOFCOM will continue to support local authorities in using chartered flights and commercial flights to help staff of foreign trade companies go overseas to attended business activities such as exhibitions and business negotiations. When appropriate, MOFCOM will also encourage optimization of services for personnel entry to facilitate inbound business visits for commercial negotiations.

Second, leveraging exhibitions. MOFCOM and local authorities will step up support for businesses in their participation in exhibitions. We will explore the possibility of restarting in-person exhibitions where conditions permit and keep high-quality online exhibitions going. MOFCOM will encourage qualified local authorities to expand the scale of overseas exhibitions to reach out to more foreign trade businesses.

Third, helping foreign trade companies get overseas market information. Responding to the feedback of some medium- and small-sized foreign traders regarding inaccessible and unaffordable overseas market information, MOFCOM will guide local authorities and relevant institutions to increase the supply of the information and help MSEs obtain more and better-quality information. Thank you.

China News Agency: Recently, the State Council has approved comprehensive pilot projects for greater openness in the service sector in Shenyang, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Guangzhou and Chengdu, and required MOFCOM to work with relevant departments to promote these projects. Could you please introduce these pilot projects and areas of future work?

Shu Jueting: The national comprehensive pilot program for greater openness in the service sector is a major step of the CPC central committee and the State Council for high-level opening up. General Secretary Xi Jinping has given multiple important instructions and made plans personally on the pilot and demonstration projects. The implementation of the program in the six cities represents its second expansion and a crucial measure to open China’s service sector. Now, I would like to give some details.

The effects of the pilot program and demonstration work. In May 2015, with the approval of the State Council, Beijing took the lead in carrying out the pilot program. In September, 2020, General Secretary Xi Jinping announced at the China International Fair for Trade in Services that China supports the municipality in developing a national integrated demonstration zone for greater openness in the services sector. In April, 2021, the State Council approved pilot programs in Tianjin, Shanghai, Hainan and Chongqing, expanding their scope to five provinces and municipalities, with increasingly obvious success. First, in terms of industrial opening up, more than 60 opening measures in 11 sectors, including science and technology, culture and telecommunications, have been conducted in five provinces and municipalities. Second, in terms of institutional innovation, nearly 70 policy innovations, including scientific R&D and financial services for the real economy, were launched in Beijing, and 151 differentiated pilot measures were launched in four provinces and municipalities, such as Tianjin. Third, in terms of landmark projects, more than 140 such projects are launched in Beijing, involving professional institutions, bases, platforms and emerging types of business, including many national "firsts". Shanghai attracts fin-tech projects; Hainan cultivates integrated development projects for culture, sports and entertainment; and Chongqing arranges big science projects, with positive results. Fourth, in terms of the development of demonstration parks, pilot and demonstration provinces and municipalities have made efforts to cultivate and build a number of major parks, such as the Canal Business District in Beijing, the financial leasing industry cluster in Tianjin, and the Pudong Software Park in Shanghai. Fifth, in terms of international and regional cooperation, Beijing has built the BRI comprehensive legal and commercial service mechanism; Tianjin has pursued joint development with its neighbor ports; Shanghai has launched international cooperation in the "single window" for international trade; and Chongqing has built an inland international logistics hub. Sixth, development of open economy. In the first three quarters of 2022, five provinces and municipalities created a total added value of RMB6.9 trillion for the service sector, accounting for 70.6% of the local GDP, which was 17.1 percentage points higher than the national average. From January to November, foreign investment in the service sector of five provinces and municipalities was USD47.69 billion, accounting for 36.8% of the whole country, with a year-on-year increase of 10.2%, which was 7 percentage points higher than the national average. Seventh, the replication and promotion of the pilot experience. The pilot and demonstration provinces and municipalities systematically integrated the innovation achievements in industrial opening up and development, trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, reforms of systems and institutions, and summarized 8 groups of 43 successful cases to be promoted nationwide.

On new pilot projects in Shenyang and other five cities. In April this year, in the Keynote Speech at the Opening Ceremony of BFA Annual Conference 2022, President Xi Jinping stressed that China will add more cities to the comprehensive pilot program for service sector opening. The 20th CPC National Congress made arrangements for promoting high-standard opening up, and steadily expanded institutional opening-up with regard to rules, regulations, management and standards. The Central Economic Work Conference proposed to expand market access and further open the market of modern services. This year's Report on the Work of the Government also made arrangements for more pilot programs. According to the relevant arrangements of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, the Ministry of Commerce, in conjunction with relevant localities and departments, reported to the State Council for approval to set up pilot programs in six cities: Shenyang, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Guangzhou and Chengdu. The newly-added pilot cities mentioned above are well-placed for the development of services, with strong willingness and capabilities for the implementation, and regional representativeness. On the basis of the existing "1+4" pattern in the demonstration of further opening up the service sector, it is of great significance to include six more cities in the pilot program, to improve the arrangements for pilot and demonstration programs, to lead the opening up of the service sector nationwide and to foster a new development dynamic. While including these cities in the pilot program, the Ministry of Commerce took the lead in researching and formulating corresponding measures, and supported six cities in actively exploring the service sector. Relevant pilot programs will be issued in the near future.

In the next step, the Ministry of Commerce, together with relevant provinces, municipalities and departments, will conscientiously implement the decisions and arrangements of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council. Based on the development goals of pilot cities, they will accelerate the implementation of pilot tasks, explore more replicable and scalable experience, and make new contribution to promoting high-level opening up, accelerate the creation of a new development paradigm, and promoting high-quality development. Thank you.

Shu Jueting: Do you have any other questions? If not, this is the end of today’s press conference. Thank you.