Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and decreasing external demand, China's foreign trade has registered steady growth, with trade in goods surging 9.5 percent year-on-year to 34.62 trillion yuan ($4.79 trillion) in the first 10 months of this year.
Private enterprises have made a marked contribution to the country's overall performance in foreign trade in the January-October period, with their trade volume expanding 14.4 percent to reach 17.44 trillion yuan, 50.4 percent of China's total.
In particular, their exports grew at an exponential rate of 19 percent, as compared to 13 percent growth for the total exports, showing that private enterprises have become the ballast of China's steady growth in exports.
This has not been come by easily, given the unprecedented difficulties the private sector has experienced since the pandemic began. Hit by incessant COVID-induced lockdowns nationwide, many enterprises could only operate at a much lower capacity, with some even forced to close down. The cancellation of orders, rising raw material prices and disrupted logistics caused by the pandemic prevention and control measures have compounded their problems.
That private foreign trade enterprises have survived and thrived in the face of hardships can be attributed to their strong resilience after more than four decades of robust development since the country launched its reform and opening-up policy. They have become highly adaptable to changes and challenges, and remained the most active force, embracing new technologies and new forms of business as they try to grasp and explore new development opportunities. For example, many private enterprises have now embraced cross-border e-commerce as a means to increase competitiveness and sustain their growth momentum. Over the past five years, foreign trade through cross-border e-commerce conducted by small and medium-sized private companies has increased nearly 10 times, and it is still growing at a two-digit rate annually.
As the country's fight against the pandemic enters a new stage, with prevention and control measures being optimized to ensure the smooth flow of goods and people, more policy support is needed for private foreign trade enterprises to continue to propel national economic growth.
The State Council, China's Cabinet, has recently approved a plan to establish integrated pilot zones for cross-border e-commerce in 33 cities and areas including Langfang in Hebei province and Lhasa in Tibet, to upgrade and transform traditional industries and promote industrial digitalization and foreign trade. This, in addition to the central bank's recent move to cut the reserve requirement ratio for financial institutions by 0.25 percentage points to pump more liquidity into the economy, will boost the confidence of private foreign trade companies and enable them to contribute more to China's economic recovery in the post-pandemic era.