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Regular Press Conference of the Ministry of Commerce (July 4, 2019)

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

Phoenix TV: At their Osaka meeting, Chinese and US leaders agreed to continue dialogues on trade issues. Is there any plan for upcoming negotiations? Secondly, as the US stated that no new tariff will be imposed on imported Chinese goods, will the previously imposed tariffs on US$200 billion in Chinese imports be backtracked as well?

On your first question: Commercial delegations from both sides are in contact. If there鈥檚 further information, we鈥檒l let you know in a timely manner.

On your question about tariffs: China always holds that imposing tariffs unilaterally damages both sides and will ultimately harm the interests of US businesses and consumers. It will also introduce uncertain, even recessive factors to global economy. It is the unilateral imposition of tariffs on Chinese imports that triggered China-US trade and economic frictions. China鈥檚 position on this matter has been clear and consistent: any bilateral agreement must be based on the complete removal of all imposed tariffs.

Thank you.

CNBC: What is MOFCOM鈥檚 take on the G20 negotiation between China and the US? US President Donald Trump said that bilateral trade negotiation has been underway. What are some of the specific issues involved? Is there any progress on the 鈥淯nreliable Entity List鈥(UEL), and when will it be released?

Gao Feng: I will firstly answer your last two questions. Right now, commercial delegations from both sides are in contact.

As for the UEL, we are following relevant procedures as planned, and provisions for its implementation will be introduced soon.

On your first question: The meeting between President Xi Jinping and President Trump at the G20 Osaka Summit points the way for China-US commercial relations in the next stage and has been well received in both countries and internationally. This once more shows that sound China-US relations meet the aspiration of our peoples and the expectation of the international community.

China and the US enjoy highly interlinked interests and a wide scope for cooperation. We believe that, as long as both sides adhere to the principles and guidelines set by the two leaders to expand cooperation on the basis of equality and mutual benefit, contain disputes with mutual respect and properly solve problems arising from our bilateral commercial relations, we will achieve win-win development that benefits not only our two countries, but also the whole world.

At present, China鈥檚 economy is performing steadily: China鈥檚 GDP growth is kept within a proper range above 6%; import and export are stable in general with an optimizing structure; employment is also stable as a whole. Despite external changes, we will press ahead with effective measures to expand opening up, improve the business environment and transform and upgrade our economy, so as to contribute to stable global growth.

Thank you.

Bloomberg: After the Osaka meeting, President Trump mentioned that China agreed to purchase a large amount of American farm products, which was not covered in the Chinese statement released afterwards. Can you confirm this? If it鈥檚 confirmed, what鈥檚 the amount China will purchase?

Gao Feng: China-US agricultural trade features high complementarity and great potential for cooperation. Yet it has been impacted by the China-US economic and trade friction, an outcome unwanted for neither side.

Agricultural trade is a key issue in our discussions. It is hoped that the two sides will work out a solution based on equality and mutual respect, with the fundamental interests of their peoples in mind.

Thank you.

CGTN: At their meeting during the G20 Summit, Chinese and US leaders agreed to cease fire, and the US would not impose new tariffs. Does this mean that the previous high tension between the two countries will come to a halt? How long will this ease last?

Gao Feng: China holds that the economic and trade friction with the US should be resolved with dialogues and consultations on an equal footing. China welcomes the US decision of not imposing new tariffs on Chinese products to avoid further escalating the friction.

It is hoped that the two parties will follow the important instructions of the two leaders, address each other鈥檚 concerns on the basis of equality and mutual respect and work out a solution for win-win outcomes, so as to foster a stable and predictable business environment for our countries and businesses worldwide. This not only falls in line with the interests of our countries and our peoples, but also meets the expectation of the international community.

Thank you.

Yicai TV: The 26th round of RCEP negotiations is underway in Melbourne. How is the negotiation going? What will China do in the next step to push the negotiation forward?

Gao Feng: The 26th round of negotiations for Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was held in Melbourne from June 25th to July 3rd. The parties held a plenary session of the Trade Negotiation Committee and parallel sessions of working groups on trade in goods, trade in services, investment, rules of origin, trade remedy, finance, telecommunications, intellectual property rights, e-commerce and laws and mechanisms. Positive progress was attained in these negotiations.

The 27th round of RCEP negotiations will be held in Zhengzhou, Henan Province, China from July 22nd to 31st, and a ministerial meeting will be held in Beijing from August 2nd to 3rd. As the host country, China will continue to uphold and support ASEAN centrality in RCEP negotiations, stand for talks, cooperation and positive outcomes and prepare for the conclusion of negotiations at the end of this year.

Thank you.

China News Service: At the G20 Summit, Chinese and Japanese leaders reached a consensus to advance the negotiation of China-Japan South Korea Free Trade Agreement. How has the negotiation been progressing? Will an agreement be made by the end of this year?

Gao Feng: The GDP and trade volume of China, Japan and South Korea combined account for around 20% of world total respectively. Advancing the negotiation of China-Japan-South Korea Free Trade Agreement is of paramount significance to regional economic integration and trade liberalization.

Since it was launched in 2012, the negotiation has gone through 15 rounds. At present, the three parties agree to work on the basis of the achievements of RCEP negotiations to improve existing rules and enhance trade and investment liberalization within the region, so as to form an RCEP+ free trade agreement.

China, together with Japan and South Korea, will push forward the negotiations in order to reach a comprehensive, high-level and mutually beneficial free trade agreement, and a landscape for high-quality regional economic development.

Thank you.

China Business News: Is there any initial outcome regarding the matching laws and regulations for implementing the Foreign Investment Law?

Gao Feng: The matching laws and regulations for the Foreign Investment Law (FIL) have been listed in the State Council鈥檚 2019 legislation plan. We are cooperating with the Ministry of Justice in this respect by clarifying the main legal regimes of the FIL and forming specific, operable rules. As we do so, we will solicit opinions from the public, especially from foreign-invested enterprises (FIEs), and take reasonable suggestions into consideration in order to implement systems such as trade protection, promotion and management as stipulated by the FIL.

Thank you.

China Business Radio: Last Sunday, two negative lists were released, one national and one for free trade zones. How has the 2018 negative list been implemented? As for the new negative lists, the national list is shortened from 48 items to 40, and the list for free trade zones also has 7 fewer items. In which areas are the lists shortened, and what鈥檚 the rationale behind it?

Gao Feng: The 2018 negative list has been well implemented across the country and, particularly, in free trade zones (FTZs) where it is best recognized for it has drastically increased investment transparency and facilitated and standardized investment. First, procedures for setting up FIEs has been significantly simplified. Since the negative list came into effect, 99% of the FIEs in FTZs have been set up through filing. Second, FTZs have increasingly been testing sites for opening up. We have been piloting projects in FTZs, and projects for areas including stage performance agencies and value-added telecommunications have been promoted nationwide. Third, FTZs have been magnets of foreign investment. As the negative list is shortened year over year, the business environment in FTZs has been optimized, which has driven innovation and economic growth. In 2018, 9,409 FIEs were set up in FTZs, accounting for 15.5% of the national total, and up 37.5% from the previous year; RMB107.31 billion of foreign investment was utilized, 12.1% of the national total, and up 3.2% year-on-year.

In revising the negative lists, we adopted the following key measures to expand opening up. First, expanding opening up in the services industry. In the transportation industry, we removed the restriction that domestic vessel agencies shall be controlled by Chinese investors; in the infrastructure industry, we removed the restriction that natural gas and heating pipelines in cities with a population above 500,000 shall be controlled by Chinese investors; in the culture industry, we removed the restriction that cinemas and stage performance agencies shall be controlled by Chinese investors; in value-added telecommunications, we removed restrictions on foreign investment in three domestic businesses, namely multi-party communication, store-and-forward and call centers.

Second, expanding opening up in agriculture, mining and manufacturing. In agriculture, we removed the prohibition on exploiting wildlife resources; in mining, we removed the restriction that foreign investment in exploring and developing oil and natural gas shall be limited to joint ventures and cooperation, and removed the restriction on exploring and mining molybdenum, tin, antimony and fluorite; in manufacturing, we removed the prohibition on producing Xuan paper and ink ingots.

Third, intensifying stress testing in FTZs. Aside from the opening up measures, we additionally removed the restriction on industries such as aquatic product fishing and publication printing.

As we broaden the scope for opening up, we remain committed to offering better services to foreign investors, fostering a more enabling environment and sharing opportunities of China鈥檚 development.

Thank you.

CNR: At the G20 Summit, President Xi Jinping mentioned five major initiatives for opening up, including setting up new pilot FTZs and a new area in the pilot FTZ in Shanghai. How are these measures implemented? What standards will the new FTZs be up to, and will they be more likely set up in central and western provinces?

Gao Feng: As for the six new pilot FTZs and the new area in Shanghai pilot FTZ, we are working with relevant authorities and local governments to advance their establishment and implement due procedures. The six new pilot FTZs and the new area in Shanghai pilot FTZ, once up and running, will further optimize the layout of our pilot FTZs, serve national strategies and enable differentiated exploration in pilot reform projects that will deliver more outcomes with wider application.

Thank you.

CRI: A report mentioned that this week, a senior official from the US Department of Commerce instructed his staff in an email to treat Huawei as a blacklisted company when handling applications of product sales from US companies, despite President Trump鈥檚 previous announce to backtrack the ban on Huawei. What鈥檚 your comment? Besides, President Trump also stated that a China-US trade agreement must be pro-US to some extent. What鈥檚 your comment on that?

Gao Feng: On your first question: As President Trump has stated at the G20 Summit to allow US companies to sell their products to Huawei, we hope that the US would uphold this commitment and refrain from the wrong practice of suppressing Chinese companies by national force.

On your second question: The essence of China-US commercial cooperation lies in mutual benefit and win-win outcomes. China stresses that negotiations should be in accordance with the principle of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. Any agreement ought to be balanced and reciprocal, where China鈥檚 core concerns must be properly addressed.

Gao Feng: Any other questions? If not, this is the end of today鈥檚 press conference. Thank you.

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