China's foreign trade is expected to sustain its upward momentum during the first quarter, the Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday.
A recent survey conducted by the ministry of more than 20,000 export-oriented companies across China showed that they held more orders than the same period a year ago, during the January to March period. Many of them believe that they have benefited from the country's policies, including tax and fee cuts, export rebates and other trade facilitation measures.
However, a number of companies said that there are still several uncertainties for their businesses this year. There are risks such as the impact of COVID-19, the instability of the international industrial and supply chains, and the complexity of the global environment.
Gao Feng, a spokesman for the ministry, said the government will pay close attention to the global business environment, maintain the continuity, stability and sustainability of policies, and continue to help Chinese exporters reduce costs and increase efficiency to reinforce the stability and quality of the country's foreign trade.
In terms of expanding imports, the official said the ministry will continue to cooperate with the Ministry of Finance and other relevant departments to optimize and adjust import tax policies in order to promote import of high-quality products and services.
"In the meantime, the country will continue to highlight the leading role of the national import demonstration zones to boost the imports of advanced technology, equipment and services, import more products related to people's livelihood, and support the growth of new import formats," he said during a weekly news conference in Beijing.
As China has been actively fulfilling the promises it made when the nation joined the World Trade Organization, there are still plenty of areas to further cut import taxes, particularly after the country launched the Hainan Free Trade Port, where a number of products and commodities can be traded with zero or low tariffs, said Liang Ming, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.
As long as global trade maintains a healthy growth order, China will further cut import tariffs and try to seal more free trade deals with various partners, he said.
Apart from cutting import tax, China has also taken other measures to enrich its opening-up. It has been working with 14 other partners to ratify the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement before the end of this year and push for it to take effect on Jan 1, 2022.
The deal will establish a management system for the origin of goods as well as informing companies about tariff concessions and relevant policies under the RCEP framework, said Zhang Jianping, director-general of the Beijing-based China Center for Regional Economic Cooperation.
Jean-Etienne Gourgues, managing director of Pernod Ricard China, the French wine and spirits group, said that major regional free trade agreements like the RCEP will have a real impact in facilitating trade and play a strong role in trade promotion among companies in the region.
For companies from outside the region like Pernod Ricard, he said the RCEP agreement will provide a more open and favorable business environment, as well as bring about more transparent policies.
"A unified system of rules in the region will allow us to pursue further investment and in-depth development in the Chinese market, while also providing more space to introduce high-quality foreign consumer products in China," he said.
China will issue a guideline to make clear the provisions on products covered by the RCEP preferential regulations, such as transportation rules and verification of the origin of exports, said Jiang Feng, director-general of the Department of Duty Collection at the General Administration of Customs.
The country will also enhance policy promotion and training to help companies better understand the tariff concessions and preferential rules under the RCEP, so that they can fully benefit from such a massive multilateral trade deal, she added.