People shop in a street market in Tianjin on September 9, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua)
China will take policy steps to boost new types of consumption by supporting new business forms and models, with a view to promote economic recovery, according to a statement issued on Wednesday after a State Council executive meeting, chaired by Premier Li Keqiang.
Consumption, as a key engine for growth, has been significantly affected by COVID-19 this year and become a drag on economic recovery. However, new forms and models of business based on the internet and digital technologies have generated rapid growth in new types of consumption despite the overall downward trend and demonstrated enormous potential.
"COVID-19 has made a big impact on consumption," Li said. "For China to achieve positive growth this year, boosting consumption is vitally important. Efforts should be made in line with our own national conditions to expand channels of consumption and stimulate domestic demand."
Those at the Wednesday meeting agreed that it is important to remove consumption-related bottlenecks to economic growth and encourage market players to embrace innovation, so as to further unleash the potential of domestic demand and inject impetus into economic recovery.
"Consumption growth is mainly driven by the market. And for various reasons, a great deal of efforts is needed to give a real boost to consumption," Li pointed out.
The meeting urged expanding and upgrading new types of consumption. Non-contact consumption will be promoted; online courses and remote diagnosis and treatment will be promoted; fitness and tourism sectors are encouraged to integrate their online and offline services; smart supermarkets powered by digital technologies will be developed; and supply chains that bring farm produce directly from fields to retailers will be improved.
Infrastructure supporting new types of consumption needs to be built at a faster pace. The coverage of 5G and Internet of Things networks will be prioritized in central business districts, industrial parks and transportation hubs. Rural commerce will go through digital upgrading. In the meantime, the commercial use of consumer data will proceed in a secure and orderly manner.
"During our fight against COVID-19, new types of consumption have achieved rapid growth despite the downward pressure on the economy. From industrial goods to farm produce, and from medical services, education to tourism and fitness, new consumption has played a notable role in the COVID-19 response and demonstrated strong potential. Given its immediate benefit to the economy and promising prospect, we must make long-term plans for its future development," Li said.
Tax policies that support the growth of new business forms and models will be introduced to boost new types of consumption. Financial institutions will be encouraged to adopt new steps to reduce the cost of mobile payment.
Measures will be taken to extend social security coverage to people working in new forms and models of businesses, and strengthen protection for flexible employment. Support will be given to enterprises in conducting "employee sharing."
Traditional ways of consumption will be better leveraged as the mainstay while the positive effect of new types of consumption is to be strengthened. Support will be given to bricks-and-mortar companies that run online business as well as internet platform companies engaging in offline business. Companies are also encouraged to carry out online promotion to boost offline sales.
"It is all the more important to nurture new growth drivers and promote economic restructuring by leveraging the growth of new consumption based on new forms and models of businesses," Li said.
The reform of government functions will be deepened to streamline the license approval procedures. Accommodating yet prudent regulation will be further implemented.
The mechanisms for user rights protection and product tracing will be bolstered, and malpractices such as intellectual property right infringements, selling counterfeit products, cheating, swindling, and leaking private information will be cracked down on in accordance with laws to foster a safe and trusted environment for consumers.
"Greater efforts must be made in transforming government functions to create a more enabling environment for new consumption to survive and thrive. Government authorities must work to enhance network building both online and offline, adopt a prudent yet accommodative regulatory approach, and provide greater support to the growth of these businesses," Li said.
The meeting also outlined plans to advance medical education in an innovative way to build a talent pool for protecting people's health.