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Zhejiang on steady path to recovery

By Ma Zhenhuan in Hangzhou | China Daily | Updated: 2020-07-23 09:46
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An employee inspects battery products at a factory in Huzhou, Zhejiang province, on Monday.[Photo by Tan Yunfeng/For China Daily]

A powerhouse known for its booming private and export-oriented economy, East China's Zhejiang province has taken a combination of effective measures to offset the impact of COVID-19 on foreign trade and help foreign trade enterprises find a way out of business issues they have faced during the pandemic.

In early February, the province released a set of 30 policies in going all out to sustain economic development.

In the following months, policies supporting foreign trade companies and foreign investment were announced to withstand the negative economic impact caused by the spread of the disease worldwide.

Backed by the provincial government, cities in Zhejiang have striven to fully exert their local strengths and advantages to survive the lingering slowdown of foreign trade.

Zhejiang Lovely Technology Textile Co Ltd, a manufacturer of garments and protective clothes for medical uses in Shengzhou, a county-level city in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province, distributed its own orders of over 300,000 in clothing to companies within the city since March. The local textile and clothing association acted as the coordinator during the process.

Zhang Yuejin, director of the company's manufacturing department, said the need for protective clothes has surged since the beginning of the year and they decided to focus on making protective clothes. They have shared the orders of ordinary garments with local garment makers in Shengzhou.

Xing Yunming, director of the Shengzhou Mingli Garment Factory, said so far his company has manufactured about 50,000 garments for the orders shared by Zhejiang Lovely Technology Textile Co Ltd.

"Without these orders, the factory wouldn't survive the crisis," he said, adding the orders are key in their ability to retain their workers.

An official at Shengzhou's commerce bureau said the sharing of orders has partly solved the problems of companies that cannot receive any orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is considered conducive to the recovery of foreign trade in the city.

The port city of Ningbo in Zhejiang, which is ranked 5th in China in 2019 in terms of the value of imports and exports, has managed to maintain its foreign trade momentum in the first half of 2020 despite the pandemic thanks to the government's strong support.

The bureaus of commerce and finance in the city joined hands with the Ningbo branch of China Export& Credit Insurance Corporation on Dec 26 to set up a financing platform for small and micro foreign trade enterprises.

Companies with an annual export value of less than $30 million are able to apply for short-term loans on the platform to tackle their financing difficulties.

With the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc around the world, the Ningbo government decided to upgrade the platform and loosen the limits for those applying by including companies with an annual import and export value of no more than $100 million.

As of July 14, the platform has issued loans to 299 medium-sized, small and micro foreign trade companies in Ningbo. The combined loans granted reached 769 million yuan ($110 million).

In June, the value of imports and exports in Ningbo topped 89.8 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 27 percent. The city's export value reached 58.66 billion yuan, up by 23.4 percent compared to the previous year. That is also 19.1 percentage points higher than that of the whole country.

In Huzhou in northern Zhejiang, small and medium-sized companies in Anji county have been focusing on the development of cross-border e-commerce in the hope of finding a new growth engine for its traditional foreign trade sector.

To help them lower the financing costs and the risks of using overseas warehouse facilities, the county's foreign trade service platform coordinated domestic and foreign resources and launched an exclusive service for foreign trade companies.

The platform announced it would pay for goods in advance of the completion of the transaction in a bid to protect small companies from the burden of payment collection.

Customs statistics show that between January and June, volume for foreign trade in goods in Zhejiang reached 1.47 trillion yuan, a year-on-year rise of 4.2 percent, 7.4 percentage points higher than the national average, Zhejiang's Department of Commerce said on Tuesday.

Qin Jirong contributed to this story.

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