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Regular Press Conference of the Ministry of Commerce (June 20, 2019)

Gao Feng: Dear friends from the press, good afternoon. Welcome to the regular press conference of MOFCOM. Since I don鈥檛 have announcements to make today, we can proceed directly to Q&A. The floor is open.

Phoenix TV: We鈥檝e noted that in the telephone conversation held at the invitation of President Trump on June 18, President Xi Jinping agreed to communicate on trade and economic issues. Have the economic teams from the two sides got back in contact? It is reported that USTR Robert Lighthizer said he would have a phone call with the Chinese side within one day and a half. Mr. Spokesman, could you confirm it? Have the two sides got any plan of trade consultations in the near future?

Gao Feng: On June 18, President Xi Jinping had a telephone conversation with President Trump at his invitation. President Trump said that the US sets great store by trade and economic cooperation with China, hoping that two economic teams could communicate and seek a way to resolve current differences as early as possible. President Xi Jinping agreed that economic teams from the two sides keep communication on how to address the differences.

Going forward, the principals will communicate according to the important instructions of the two Presidents. So far I have no further details of the communication for you. Thank you.

Bloomberg: Have Vice Premier Liu He and Ambassador Lighthizer already talked on the phone? If not, when will it happen? Do you know if Chinese and American delegations will meet in the run-up to the G20 Summit? Any relevant plan you could share with us?

Gao Feng: For the first question, as I just said, the principals will communicate as instructed by the two Presidents.

With respect to your second question, in the telephone conversation, President Trump said he looks forward to meeting President Xi Jinping again on the sidelines of G20 Summit in Osaka to have an in-depth communication on bilateral relations and issues of common interest. President Xi said he is willing to meet President Trump in Osaka and exchange views on fundamental issues relevant to the development of China-US relationship. The trade teams of the two sides will follow through the important instructions of the two Presidents and make preparations for their meeting in Osaka.

China Daily: The Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China made up of Japanese companies released a white paper on June 19th, hoping the Chinese government can improve the ease of doing business, further open up the market, and accord equal treatment to foreign invested enterprises and local companies. What is MOFCOM鈥檚 comment?

Gao Feng: We鈥檝e noted the white paper on Chinese economy and Japanese companies. The chamber chairman said at the media conference that Japanese companies in China will continue to give top priority to their business in China. According to the white paper, 48% of Japanese companies are willing to expand business in China, which is 10 percentage points higher than in 2015. It reflects strong confidence of Japanese companies in China market. In the white paper, Japanese companies expect China to open up further. By the end of June, the Chinese government will publish the revised nationwide and FTZ negative lists for foreign investment, opening more sectors to foreign investment. The Foreign Investment Law, which will come into effect on January 1, 2020, provides that foreign invested enterprises have equal access to all policy support, and participate in standard-making and government procurement as equals. We will continue to look deeper into the legitimate concerns and issues raised by foreign invested enterprises, deepen reform, and work towards a more stable, fair, transparent and predictable investment climate for investors. Thank you.

Market News International: I have a follow-up question on restarting the negotiations. Are the conditions for China to restart negotiations still the three concerns proposed by Vice-Premier Liu He, including removal of all the additional tariffs, no buying or selling under coercion for purchases and more balanced text of the agreement? The second question, according to Xinhua News Agency, during their meeting, the leaders of the two countries will exchange views on fundamental issues related to the development of China-US relations. In your opinion, what are those 鈥渇undamental issues鈥

Gao Feng: As for your first question, China鈥檚 basic principles, position and attitude about China-US economic and trade consultations have been consistent and clear. China鈥檚 core concerns must be properly addressed. In the next step, the principals of economic and trade teams on both sides will communicate according to the important instructions of the leaders of the two countries. We will give timely updates on details of the communication if there is more information to offer. Your second question is about the details of the meeting between the leaders of the two countries. I suggest you take it to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Thank you.

China News Service: We have noticed that, recently the US has started to hold hearings on additional tariffs on USD 300 billion worth of Chinese goods exported to the US and received over 1,500 comments in disagreement up till now. Many companies say they almost have no other choice but to produce clothing, consumer electronics and other consumer goods in China. If the additional tariffs are levied, this will have a large impact on US companies, consumers and average families. American manufacturing companies say that they depend on the import of spare parts from China for production. What鈥檚 the comment of MOFCOM on that?

Gao Feng: We have noticed that, for some time, US importers, retailers and manufacturing companies have stated their views against additional tariffs on Chinese products and expressed their concerns over the inevitable impact of tariffs on US companies and average families. No winner will emerge from a trade war. If the US insists on imposing unilateral trade measures against China, this will have serious impacts on its own economic development and the welfare of its people.

China always believes that, on the basis of equality and mutual trust, cooperation is the only correct choice for China and the US. The threat of trade war and constant additional tariffs will not solve the problem. It is hoped that the US will listen to the appeal of the industries, abandon the wrong practices and resolve existing issues through equal dialogue and cooperation, which is in the interests of the peoples of the two countries and the world. Thank you.

HKCR: My question is on China-US trade. Does China expect that, after the meetings of the Presidents of China and the US next week, they will reach an agreement on trade? Is China optimistic about the prospect of restarting negotiations? The second question, Lighthizer said that talking with China will not work. What is China鈥檚 response to that? On one hand, he is saying something like that; on the other hand, he is making calls with Vice-Premier Liu He. Does it show a lack of sincerity?

Gao Feng: I have already responded to your first question. The trade and economic teams on both sides will earnestly implement the important instructions of the leaders of the two countries and make relevant preparation for the meeting of the two leaders during the Osaka Summit.

As for your second question, what I want to stress is that cooperation serves the interests of China and the US and conflict can only hurt both. The call between the leaders of the two countries provided important guidance to the work of economic and trade teams on both sides. I believe that the two sides will earnestly implement the instructions and keep in touch. Thank you.

CBN: How is the progress of the new negative list for foreign investment? Will it be published next week? How much and in which areas will it be shortened?

Gao Feng: Premier Li Keqiang announced at the Boao Forum for Asia that the revised negative lists for foreign investment nationwide and for the pilot free trade zones will be published by the end of June. The lists will be further shortened to open up more areas. We are now working on the revision and the new lists will be released by the end of June. Thank you.

CNR: On June 14th, the panel for IPR dispute settlement at the WTO made a statement that China and the US had agreed to suspend the case until December 31st, at the request of the US. Such a change may hint at a softer stance of the US government on the trade war with China. What鈥檚 your comment?

Gao Feng: On June 12th, the WTO expert panel decided to suspend the procedures for the technology licensing case filed by the US against China, a step welcomed by the Chinese side.

The Chinese government is committed to IPR protection, and has taken forceful and effective measures to protect the legitimate interests of foreign IPR holders, which has won recognition. China鈥檚 measures and rules regarding technology licensing are consistent with WTO rules.

China has always respected WTO rules and stands firm to safeguard the multilateral trading system with the WTO at its heart. We will properly handle the follow-up of the case in accordance with WTO rules and procedures. Thank you.

Economic Daily: The US hopes to focus on structural reform and enforcement mechanism in the trade talks, including IPR protection and opening-up of the market. What鈥檚 the response from China? Do you think an agreement is possible?

Gao Feng: As the two largest economies, China and the US have great economic complementarity and close ties, representing enormous common interests. We believe this is surely a way forward provided that the two sides conduct equal-footed dialogues and accommodate each other鈥檚 concerns.

Global Times: The 21st round of China-EU BIT negotiation took place in Beijing between June 10 and June 14. Could you share with us the progress?

Gao Feng: Last April, during the 21st China-EU leaders鈥summit, it was agreed that decisive progress be made by the end of this year so that a high-standard agreement could be concluded by 2020. Between June 10 and June 14, the 21st round of negotiation was held in Beijing, during which the two sides had in-depth discussion on the text and offers, and made positive progress.

The two sides will follow the instructions of the leaders to increase input and frequency of the negotiations to deliver the target set by the leaders. Thank you.

21st century economic daily: USTR is holding hearings on a new round of tariff on USD300 billion worth of Chinese goods. Secretary Ross recently indicated that the meeting between President Xi and President Trump is likely to restore the talks, not to hold back the new tariffs. What鈥檚 your comment?

Gao Feng: China is strongly opposed to unilateral imposition of tariffs and the escalation of trade frictions through trade bullyism. We will take necessary countermeasures. We hope the US will halt the wrong practices immediately so that businesses from the two countries won鈥檛 suffer from greater losses or even downward pressure on global economy. We need to create the necessary conditions and atmosphere for equal-footed consultations.

Gao Feng: Any more questions?

If not, this is the end of the press conference. Thank you.

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