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Foreign trade rapidly stabilizing, ministry says

By JING SHUIYU | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-02-21 07:04
Workers perform docking operations at a port in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province, on Feb 11. [Photo by Yu Fangping/For China Daily]

China has been making enhanced efforts to stabilize foreign trade and help domestic exporters resume operations while strengthening epidemic prevention, the Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday.

Despite the novel coronavirus pneumonia epidemic, many Chinese exporters, including cross-border e-commerce firms and trading companies specializing in medical and meat products, have been operating normally since Spring Festival, said Li Xingqian, director general of the ministry's department of foreign trade.

"They have played an important role in expanding imports and ensuring domestic market supply," Li said at a news conference.

Since Feb 10, other exporters based outside Hubei province have gradually begun to resume operations, he said.

Exporters have accelerated the pace of restarting their operations, which is "in line with expectations", Li said, citing provinces where foreign trade has a leading role in the local economy.

About 70 percent of major exporters in Zhejiang and Shandong provinces have resumed work, and exporters in Guangdong, Jiangsu and other provinces are also rapidly returning to work, he said.

The ministry issued 20 measures on Tuesday to help traders cope with the impact of the epidemic on their operations and limit the impact of the outbreak on the economy.

Li said progress in resuming production varies in different places according to the outbreak prevention situation there. In areas with low risks, normal production is being restored to full capacity, while in high-risk areas, production is gradually being resumed, he said.

The tight supply of raw materials and logistics problems have been effectively addressed, and the linkage between the upstream and downstream industrial chain has been recovering rapidly, Li added.

Li said that if the epidemic lasts a long time, industries dealing with agricultural products and sectors with long industrial chains and that are labor intensive are expected to be seriously affected.

He added that the ministry has introduced a number of policies and measures to help exporters reduce costs, increase efficiency and create conditions for the stable development of foreign trade.

Also on Thursday, ministry spokesman Gao Feng said the value of outsourcing contracts for services performed by Chinese enterprises amounted to 1.57 trillion yuan ($223.7 billion) in 2019, up 18.6 percent year-on-year.

The amount of such completed contracts hit a record of 1.07 trillion yuan last year, an increase of 11.5 percent year-on-year. "It was the first time that the number exceeded 1 trillion yuan," Gao said.

Business orders from the United States, the European Union and Belt and Road economies-the three markets contributing more than half of the contracts-have increased rapidly, Gao said.


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