Ministry to boost trade despite barriers

All necessary efforts will be made to stabilize and grow China’s foreign trade despite mounting barriers and challenges, government officials said on July 22.

For instance, export-oriented companies will receive all possible help to withstand the impact of the recent rises in shipping and commodity costs, they said.

Since higher shipping costs are hurting domestic manufacturers, the government will urge global shipping companies to adopt a long-term perspective over short-term considerations, so as to cherish the growth opportunities in the Asian market.

Such an approach will help ensure the world’s supply chains operate smoothly, said Li Xingqian, director-general of the foreign trade department at the Ministry of Commerce.

Owing to COVID-19, shipping companies have been enduring a situation where empty containers from many parts of the world are unable to come back to China.

This led to rising costs — a threefold to sixfold surge — of shipping lanes. For instance, the shipping cost of a container from Lianyungang port in Jiangsu province to the Port of Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, skyrocketed, from $2,500 to almost $13,000 last month, according to industry data.

“We remind business associations in areas such as shipping and freight forwarding to further strengthen industry self-discipline and urge companies in the industry to operate in compliance with laws and regulations,” said Li.

Despite pressures, China’s foreign trade rose 27 percent year-on-year to 18.07 trillion yuan ($2.8 trillion) during the first half of this year.

The rise was attributed mainly to robust demand that followed rapid economic recovery in major economies from the impacts of COVID-19.

Rapid growth of cross-border e-commerce also contributed to solid trade, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.

About 40 percent of Chinese export-oriented businesses recently surveyed by the Ministry of Commerce reported year-on-year growth in new export orders, highlighting improvement in global demand and domestic players’ ability to boost their earnings.

Li predicted that the recovery of external demand and the steady improvement of the domestic economy will continue to support the growth of China’s foreign trade.

But, in the second half of this year, growth may drop due to the high growth base of last year and other uncertainties, Li said.

The ministry called on its trade partners to increase the supplies of ocean shipping containers and enhancing price supervision in the market.

It also urged them to reinforce international cooperation and information sharing, work together to maintain the international logistics order, and promote the smooth operation of global supply chains.

Li said raw material prices surged recently as price transmission has become a global phenomenon. The rapid increase in domestic and foreign demand has further aggravated the up trend of prices, he said.

China will closely monitor the price trends of bulk commodities, further diversify import sources and build stable trade channels to maintain adequate stocks and reasonable price levels of raw materials.

Apart from establishing trade facilitation working groups with 15 countries participating in the development of the Belt and Road Initiative, China and its partners involved in the initiative have created 14 cooperation mechanisms for trade in services.

China has also worked with 22 countries to further enhance ties in bilateral e-commerce cooperation to boost new forms and models of foreign trade, said Guo Tingting, director-general of the comprehensive affairs department under the Ministry of Commerce.

Bai Ming, deputy director of international market research department at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said that the structure of China’s foreign trade has already optimized and upgraded.

For instance, the contribution of processing trade is gradually increasing. China’s high-tech firms have all performed well so far this year.

With many countries setting goals to further cut carbon emissions, CIMC Raffles, a subsidiary of Shenzhen, Guangdong province-headquartered China International Marine Containers (Group) Ltd, announced earlier this month that it has received a contract for up to six low-emission LNG-powered car carriers from Wallenius Lines, a Swedish shipping company.

Construction of the carriers will take place at CIMC Raffles’ Longkou shipyard in Yantai, Shandong province, said Wang Jianzhong, CEO and president of CIMC Raffles.

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