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Regular Press Conference of the Ministry of Commerce (August 1, 2019)
  

Gao Feng: Friends from the press, good afternoon. Welcome to the regular press conference of MOFCOM. I have no announcement to make today and am happy to take your questions. The floor is open for questions.

Phoenix Satellite TV: About the China-US trade negotiation held in Shanghai a couple of days ago, what outcomes have been achieved? Is there any agreement? Is the location of next round of negotiations decided? Will Shanghai become the place for future negotiations in China?

Gao Feng: As you all know, the 12th round of high-level trade negotiation was held in Shanghai between July 30th and 31st. According to the consensus reached by the two Presidents in Osaka, China and the US conducted in-depth exchanges on major issues of common interest on trade and economic fronts in a candid, efficient and constructive manner. The two sides also discussed increasing import of American agricultural products based on China鈥檚 domestic needs and creating favorable conditions for such purchase on the US side. They agreed the next round of negotiations will be held in September in the US.

We have explained why choosing Shanghai as the location. The city is well-positioned to prepare for such negotiation, which is fully proved by the facts. Shanghai provides strong support for a smooth negotiation and creates a good atmosphere for the negotiation with its openness, inclusiveness and diversity. The two teams will discuss and decide the locations for negotiations in the future when it comes to it. Thank you.

CGTN: Have the two sides discussed Huawei in the negotiation? Has the US made it clear when to remove Huawei from the entity list?

Gao Feng: We鈥檝e noted the recent relevant announcements by the US commerce secretary. We hope the US can honor its commitment and stop using national force to hit Chinese companies.

Global Times: Where will the bilateral trade relations go after this round of negotiations? Can we expect the China-US trade war to end?

Gao Feng: China always believes that the two big countries have more common interests than differences on the trade front. Bilateral trade and economic cooperation is all about mutual benefits and win-win results. With the 12th round of high-level trade talk held in Shanghai as instructed by the two Presidents in Osaka, the two economic teams rekindle the negotiations based on equal footing and mutual respect. They agreed to meet in the US in September for the next round.

I believe that as long as the two sides accommodate each other鈥檚 reasonable concerns in the principle of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, they will find a way to solve the issues and push for sound and stable growth of China-US commercial ties. Thank you.

21st Century Business Herald: What have been discussed specifically? Why is it so brief?

Gao Feng: The two sides discussed two things. First, they discussed the reason why the negotiations were suspended and clarified their views on some important trade-related issues. Second, they discussed the principles, methods and relevant time arrangement for the future work. On top of that, they also discussed how China imports more American agro products based on its domestic demand and how the US creates favorable conditions for it. The exchanges are candid, efficient and constructive. As far as I know, the consultation ended on schedule. Thank you.

Bloomberg: We鈥檝e taken note of some report saying the two working teams will have intense negotiations in August. How is the working-level negotiation arranged? Why will the next round take place in September instead of in August since the trade talks between China and the US are extremely important for the whole world? Any special reason?

Gao Feng: As you mentioned, the Chinese and American economic teams will engage in close communication in the run-up to September and the working teams will conduct intense negotiations in August to pave the way for the Principals鈥meeting in September. Thank you.

China Daily: It is reported that the Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council will look into excluding additional tariffs on some agricultural products imported from the US by certain companies according to relevant regulations. What companies can apply for the exclusion and what kinds of products can be excluded? How is the review going?

Gao Feng: Since July 19th, some Chinese companies, both SOEs and private ones, have made an inquiry to US suppliers of soybeans, cotton, pork, sorghum and other agro products. Some transactions have been completed based on market conditions. Some companies have applied for exclusion for the additional tariffs on the agro products imported from the US. The CTC is reviewing the applications according to relevant procedures. If there is any new information, it will be released in a timely manner. Thank you.

Xinhua News Agency: President Trump signed an MOU on reforming developing-country status in the WTO recently. He threatened to take unilateral actions if there is no substantial progress within 90 days of the date of the MOU. As the largest developing country, what China makes of such announcement? If the US takes actions, will China respond with relevant measures?

Gao Feng: We鈥檝e noted such moves by the US. Denying the developing-country status of China and other members disregards facts or the principle and spirit of the WTO.

Development issue lies at the core of the WTO鈥檚 work. Overall speaking, the development gap between the South and North still exists or even widens in spite of rapid growth of some developing members. They still need policy room to promote all-round development of economy, society, environment, poverty reduction and employment, among others. The right to special and differential treatment of developing members should be effectively protected.

As the world鈥檚 largest developing country, it still takes a long time for China to catch up with developed ones on many fronts. For example, a recent UNCTAD report shows China鈥檚 human development index ranked 86th, slightly above the world average level but still lower than the 1990 level of OECD countries. The gap of absolute per capita income between China and the US widened from 43,000 dollars in 2000 to 46,000 dollars in 2016. Agricultural sector makes up 7% of GDP in China, higher than most of middle income countries. In 2018, the share of informal employment in China reached 50%-74%. The country remains at the middle and lower part of global value chains.

China will continue to shoulder international responsibility that is commensurate with its economic development level and capacity as a responsible developing country. China will join fellow developing countries to firmly protect legitimate rights and interests of developing members and play a constructive role in WTO reform.

We hope the US can stop using unilateralism, bullyism and other wrong practices, and work together with other WTO members to steer the WTO reform process towards a positive direction. Thank you.

CBN Daily: Some analysts said that the WTO related memorandum signed by the US would be used as bargaining chips in its negotiations with China, how does MOFCOM comment on that?

China has emphasized multiple times that the economic and trade consultation between China and the US must be based on equality and mutual respect. We hope that the US could do more to facilitate the consultations, demonstrate its sincerity and good faith, so as to create a favorable atmosphere for the consultations. This serves the interests of the people of both countries and the world at large. Thank you.

CNBC: Yesterday, MOFCOM published the Measures for the Management of the Joint Disciplinary List of Commercial Credit. How will it impact foreign companies? Does it have any relations with the Unreliable Entity List?

The Measures for the Management of the Joint Disciplinary List of Commercial Credit promulgated by MOFCOM is a concrete move to establish the commercial credit system. It is a different system from the Unreliable Entity List.

In fact, the Measures mainly targets regulatory practices by government authorities. Relevant authorities shall comply with laws and regulations, conduct verification and management in a prudential and well-regulated manner. The Measures also protects the lawful rights and interests market players should enjoy and treats domestic and foreign enterprises equally. For instance, when it comes to specific industries such as domestic trade circulation, housekeeping services in the commercial area, relevant joint disciplinary systems have been put in place and should be properly implemented according to the Measures.

We aim to build a more transparent and efficient government regulatory system through the Measures and foster a better business environment for all types of enterprises and market players. Thank you.

Yicai: The GACC released two announcements on July 25 to allow soybean imports from all parts of Russia and increase wheat imports from Russian region of Kurgan. How much will it impact the total amount of soybean imports from Russia? What is the prospect for the agricultural products trade between China and Russia?

Expanding soybean imports from Russia is the important consensus by the two heads of states of China and Russia. Relevant authorities of the two sides agreed to conduct full industrial chain cooperation on soybean trade, investment, plantation, processing, logistics and R&D, and expand the bilateral trade scale. The announcements by the GACC to expand soybean imports to all parts of Russia and add waterway transportation (including sea transportation) are a major step to implement the consensus of the two presidents of the two countries. It will greatly enhance the facilitation of bilateral trade of soybeans and drive the growth of soybean trade.

Last year, China imported 817000 tons of soybeans from Russia, a year-on-year increase of 64.7%, reflecting a great potential for growth. From what we have learned, this July, Chinese companies imported 4400 tons of Russian soybeans through sea transportation. So far, our soybean cooperation concentrates in the far east region. China welcomes the soybean producing areas in the European Russia to cooperate with China to export soybeans to our coastal provinces with strong soybean processing capacities. We hope the two sides can engage more provinces and relevant parties in the cooperation, fully tap the potential for soybean cooperation based on market principles, forge ahead with full industrial chain cooperation, combine respective advantages to achieve win-win results and long-term and stable cooperation.

As for the trade of agricultural products between China and Russia, recent years have seen a rapid growth in the bilateral agricultural trade, which has become a new highlight in our bilateral trade. According to the customs, the bilateral trade value of agricultural products exceeded a record USD5 billion in 2018, a year-on-year increase of 28.2%. China鈥檚 imports of agricultural products from Russia stood at USD3.21 billion, a year-on-year increase of 51.3%. From January to May this year, agricultural products trade value between the two countries reached USD2.18 billion, a year-on-year increase of 1.9%, among which China imported USD1.45 billion from Russia, a year-on-year increase of 14.2%. China has become the main destination for Russian exports of agricultural products.

Moving forward, China is committed to working with Russia to steadily expand the market access and keep improving bilateral trade facilitation. We would encourage companies of both sides to further diversify their trade products, carry out cooperation on comprehensive agricultural development such as agricultural plantation, cultivation and processing, so as to bring new momentum for the high-quality development of bilateral trade. Thank you.

ET Net: The US President Donald Trump warned China against striking any trade deal until the end of his first term. Mr. Trump said that if he were to win the 2020 reelection, there might not be any trade deal or even worse. How does MOFCOM respond to that?

When to reach a trade agreement is determined by the progress of the negotiations. In particular, the US needs to demonstrate enough sincerity and properly address the core concerns China has repeatedly underscored, and find solutions with China based on equality and mutual respect. Thank you.

CRI: We know that MOFCOM has issued an announcement on its official website to conduct countervailing duty investigation on n-propyl alcohol imported from the US. Are there any considerations behind the timing of the investigation?

MOFCOM received the application from relevant domestic industries on June 14, 2019. According to the Countervailing Regulations of the People鈥檚 Republic of China and relevant WTO rules, on July 15, MOFCOM issued the request for consultation to the US side pursuant to the alleged subsidized items that might benefit relevant US industries mentioned in the application. On July 26, MOFCOM had a phone consultation with the USTR, DOC, USITC and relevant departments of the US Embassy to China.

After reviews and investigations, MOFCOM believed that the application by relevant domestic industries was in accordance with the legal conditions and initiated the countervailing duty investigation on July 29. We will investigate the case in a law-abiding, fair and equitable manner. Thank you.

CCTV International: It is reported that ministers and senior officials from over 50 countries will gather in Singapore next week, and some countries, including China and the US that are locked in a trade war, will sign the Singapore Convention on Mediation. Can China confirm that? What is MOFCOM鈥檚 comment?

The Singapore Convention on Mediation regulates matters of cross-border enforcement of the commercial settlement agreements reached through mediation between concerned companies or individuals. Over the past 4 years, China has actively engaged in the drafting of the Convention, whose purpose is in line with China鈥檚 advocacy for diversified settlement of international commercial disputes. Currently China is assessing the matters related to the signing of the Convention. Thank you.

Bloomberg: Another question. In the communiques on the Shanghai talks released by China and the US, both have mentioned the increase of agricultural products imports from the US. Could you please confirm that under what conditions will China increase the imports of US agricultural products?

I already mentioned just now that since July 19, some Chinese companies, including SOEs and private ones, have inquired from US suppliers about the purchasing prices for soybeans, cotton, pork and sorghum. A batch of purchasing deals have already been secured. Thank you.

TVB: The US President mentioned that he was not happy to see that China has yet significantly increased purchases of US agricultural products. Could MOFCOM clarify or confirm that if there is any commitment or agreement for the so-called 鈥渟ignificantly increasing purchases of US agricultural products鈥

I鈥檝e already given the response to the issue of agricultural products purchases. We will keep you updated. Thank you.

Are there any other questions?

If no, that鈥檚 the end of today鈥檚 press conference. Thank you.



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