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Regular Press Conference of the Ministry of Commerce (November 7, 2019)

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

Economic Daily: Yesterday, President Xi Jinping and French President Emmanuel Macron had a meeting and witnessed the signing of a joint declaration on the conclusion of the negotiations for the agreement between China and the European Union (EU) on geographical indications (GIs). Could you provide more information?

Gao Feng: Yesterday, in the witness of President Xi Jinping and President Macron who was on his visit to China, Minister Zhong Shan and Phil Hogan, EU Agricultural Commissioner and Trade Commissioner-to-be, signed a joint declaration announcing the conclusion of the China-EU agreement on GIs. The first bilateral deal China has signed with a foreign party granting comprehensive and high-level protection of GIs, this agreement is a milestone in China-EU economic and trade cooperation, manifesting China鈥檚 firm resolve for all-round and broad-based opening-up at a higher level and for stronger intellectual property rights (IPR) protection.

The China-EU GI negotiations started eight years ago in 2011. The agreement includes 14 articles in the body part, laying out rules for high-level GI protection, and 275 GI specialties from each side in the Annexes, including Anji white tea, Gannan navel orange and wine in Helan Mountan east region from China and Prosciutto di Parma and Irish whiskey from Europe. Under this agreement, the two sides will provide high-level protection to each other鈥檚 GIs and curb counterfeit GI products, making authentic, quality products accessible to both Chinese and European customers.

The China-EU GI agreement paves the way for certain Chinese products as they seek access into the EU market and promote themselves. According to this agreement, certain Chinese products are entitled to EU-certified indications, which will help them receive recognition from EU customers, thus facilitating the export of such products to the EU. Meanwhile, since some Chinese GI products originate from less developed regions, this agreement will also support regional and nationwide poverty alleviation efforts and economic sustainability.

China is willing to work with the EU to implement this agreement and advance economic and trade cooperation for the well-being of our peoples. We wish to work together to uphold the rules-based multilateral trading system and build an open world economy so as to push economic globalization forward. Thank you.

Xinhua News Agency: My question is about China-US economic and trade negotiations. Recently, Chile cancelled the hosting of the APEC Summit. When and where will China and the US sign the Phase 1 agreement? Is there any new progress in the communication of the two sides? Meanwhile, it goes that to reach the agreement, the two sides must remove existing additional tariffs in a simultaneous and proportionate manner. What鈥檚 your view? What are China鈥檚 requirements for the Phase 1 agreement?

Gao Feng: On your first question: There鈥檚 no further information that I can disclose at this moment. We will release available information in a timely manner.

On your second question: A Phase 1 agreement should be based on simultaneous and proportionate removal of existing additional tariffs. This is an important precondition for the agreement. Thank you.

CNR Business Radio: My question is also on the Phase 1 agreement. Previously, some US representative said that 鈥渉uge progress鈥has been made in reaching the Phase 1 agreement, but the text of the agreement has not been completed 100%. Could you offer more details? Thank you.

Gao Feng: Over the past two weeks, our chief negotiators have had serious and constructive discussions on properly addressing our core concerns and agreed to remove additional tariffs in phases as the agreement progresses. This will help stabilize market expectations and deliver economic benefit to China, the US and the rest of the world. It will benefit both producers and consumers. Thank you.

South China Morning Post: It is recently reported that the US is considering cancelling the 15% additional tariffs imposed since September on US$112 billion worth of Chinese goods, in a light that this will help the two countries reach the Phase 1 agreement. In the meantime, the US is expecting some returns, like the enhancement of China鈥檚 IPR protection, increasing purchases of US agricultural products and the signing of this agreement in the US. If the US is to remove related tariffs, will it help the two sides reach the Phase 1 agreement? Also, can China satisfy these US expectations?

Gao Feng: On tariffs, China鈥檚 position has been consistent and clear: The trade war started with imposing additional tariffs and should end with removing them. The amount to be removed can be agreed on based on the content of the Phase 1 agreement. Thank you.

CBN: Could you brief us on the implementation of deals made by European companies at the first CIIE and their participation in the second CIIE?

Gao Feng: As global public goods on the international trade, the CIIE provides a platform of deal-making for exhibitors and buyers from across the world. Generally speaking, the intended transactions at the first CIIE have been well-executed. For example, Jungheinrich and Geely signed a purchase order of 300 vehicles including tractors which is worth tens of millions of RMB. The contract has been fulfilled. Some exhibitors got even more orders after the exhibition.

Nearly 750 companies from EU member states participated in the second CIIE with an exhibition area of 105,000 m2, up by 25% from last year. The average exhibition area reaches 140 m2, much higher than the average of 90 m2 this year. This fully speaks to the ever increasing quality and strength of those EU companies and the real benefits they gained from the business exhibition. So far, more than 40 EU companies have registered for the third CIIE with an exhibition area of over 24,000 m2, demonstrating the good results and strong appeal of the CIIE. Spillovers and growth drivers have been created by the CIIE, too. Some companies have brought investment and built plants in China. For example, Leonardo, whose helicopter was the star exhibit at the first CIIE, plans to set up a production base in Zhejiang. The construction kicked off on November 5 this year.

At his keynote address to the opening ceremony of the second CIIE, President Xi Jinping noted that China鈥檚 middle-income population is the biggest in the world. The huge Chinese market points to a potential that is simply unlimited. It is such a big one that you should come and see what it has to offer.

It is hoped that companies from the EU and the rest of the world can make the most of the CIIE to share development opportunities presented by the big Chinese market. Thank you.

Reuters: You just mentioned tariff eliminations. What tariffs does China want removed first? You also said the two sides are talking. What is the largest difference in the negotiations right now? According to China鈥檚 estimation, when will the phase one deal be signed? Thank you.

Gao Feng: I鈥檝e already responded to the matter of tariffs. China鈥檚 position on tariffs is consistent and clear. Trade war started with imposing additional tariffs and should end with removing them. Discussions over how many tariffs to be removed can be based on the content of the phase one deal.

The two trade teams have been engaged in close communication. We hope the two sides can work together to properly address each other鈥檚 core concerns based on an equal footing and mutual respect. Thank you.

Global Times錛歍he WTO has ruled that China can impose tariffs on up to $3.6 billion worth of US goods per annum as a retaliatory measure against the US. Does China have any specific plan in this regard? Will China impose tariffs on US goods? What reactions does China want to get from the US?

Gao Feng: I understand you refer to a WTO case. On November 1, the WTO issued an arbitration report on China鈥檚 complaint against US鈥anti-dumping measures (DS471). In the findings, the WTO allows China to use retaliatory measures at a level of $3.579 billion per annum. This is China using WTO rules to protect its legitimate interests. China urges the US to respect rules and take actions to fix the mistakes so that China-US trade relations can move forward smoothly. Thank you.

China Daily: We have noted that the 24th round of the China-EU BIT negotiations is being held in Beijing from November 5 to 8. What are the focuses of the negotiations? What outcomes are expected to achieve at this phase? In the Joint Statement, both China and the EU proposed to commit to reaching a high level investment agreement by 2020. As major breakthroughs have been made in the RCEP negotiations recently, do you think the China-EU BIT negotiations will be concluded as scheduled with a high level agreement?

Pushing forward the China-EU BIT negotiations, to which China has attached great importance, is one of the top priorities of China-EU bilateral trade and economic relations. In his keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the second CIIE, President Xi Jinping pointed out that China is willing to negotiate and sign high standard free trade agreements with more countries and accelerate the China-EU BIT negotiations.

The 24th round of the China-EU BIT negotiations is underway in Beijing. The teams of both sides will keep the sound momentum in negotiations, step up efforts to make as much progress as possible, so as to achieve the negotiation goals set by the leaders of both sides. Thank you.

CNR: The second CIIE has entered into the third day. Could you shed some light upon the most popular exhibition areas or products?

With respect to the CIIE, the Business Exhibition has seven areas in five sectors, namely Equipment, Consumption, Food, Health and Services. In the first three days, areas that have received most audience are Food and Agricultural Products, Lifestyles, Equipment, Country Exhibition and China pavilion.

A variety of new products are displayed at the second CIIE, including the world鈥檚 latest anti-cancer drug, the construction waste crushing equipment with its world debut at the CIIE, the high-speed patrol boat that鈥檚 first launched in Asia, and the exoskeleton rehabilitation robot, to name but a few. More and more tech products have come to China and enriched Chinese people鈥檚 life.

The exhibitors attach greater importance to the second CIIE compared to the first Expo. A number of senior executives of multinationals have headed delegations to attend the Expo. Many companies have brought with them products that better meet the needs of Chinese consumers by taking into account their understanding and experience of the Chinese market. As one of the exhibition areas with most hot products, the Equipment Area has a number of eye-catching products. For instance, one company has tailor-made power generating sets specifically for power plants and waste water treatment plants in the central and western part of China.

The Trade in Services Area showcases products that cover every aspect of life, production and trade. A lot of exhibitors have provided diversified solutions targeting the needs of Chinese companies. For instance, the latest and most advanced refrigerated shipping solution that鈥檚 customized for Chinese food companies could quickly reduce the level of oxygen to ensure the freshness of highly sensitive goods upon the arrival at the ports. In addition, the latest 5G lab presented by one exhibitor could test the software and hardware of the internet of vehicles, thus providing technical foundation for the application of 5G in the automobile industry.

What鈥檚 more, to facilitate the garbage sorting campaign in China, a German company has launched the biodegradation testing lab to guide consumers to identify circumstances in which products are biodegradable and renewable.

Regarding health and medical care, some company has displayed nearly 50 medical tech products that reflect the new trend of international medical care featuring smart medicine, early diagnosis and early treatment, minimally invasive therapy and telemedicine. Almost half of these products make their debuts at the CIIE.

The CIIE, which has brought tangible benefits to exhibitors, is becoming the platform of first choice to bring in new products and new technologies. Thank you.

Reuters: Today we have mentioned a lot about the cancelation of tariffs. China has been hoping the US to remove tariffs. What requirements of the US does China think China needs to meet in order to remove the tariffs? My second question is about the deal. For China, is this a deal that should be signed by the two heads of states? Where does China want it to be signed, in a country between China and the US, say, in Europe, or anywhere else?

I have already given my answer. China鈥檚 position on tariffs has been consistent and clear. As the trade war began with imposing tariffs, it should be ended with a removal of tariffs. If the phase-one deal is reached, China and the US should remove the same proportion of tariffs simultaneously based on the content of the deal, which is the important condition to reach the deal.

As for other questions you have raised, I don鈥檛 have further information at hand. We will publish any new information in a timely manner. Thank you.

Are there any other questions?

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

(All information published in this website is authentic in Chinese. English is provided for reference only. )

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