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Online Regular Press Conference of the Ministry of Commerce (June 18, 2020)

China Business News: In his letter to the WTO, Ambassador Dennis Shea expressed US opposition against China, the EU, and other parties of using WTO Secretariat’s budget and personnel for the Multi-Party Interim Appeal Arbitration Arrangement (MPIA), and criticized its establishment. How does MOFCOM respond to that?

As the Appellate Body of the WTO has been paralyzed due to certain member’s blockade, the EU, China, Brazil, Canada, Australia, together with other over a dozen of WTO members have worked closely to establish the Multi-Party Interim Appeal Arbitration Arrangement to uphold the rules-based multilateral trading system and ensure the functioning of the Dispute Settlement Mechanism of the WTO. This has demonstrated that all parties are confident and supportive of multilateralism and the multilateral trading system.

MPIA is consistent with WTO rules and relevant provisions of Article 25 of the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (DSU). Continued attempts by certain member to block the establishment of MPIA are baseless in WTO rules and would further undermine the multilateral trading system.

China will keep stepping up cooperation with other participating members to push MPIA along for its smooth implementation in the future. China, in cooperation with other WTO members, would stay committed to resolving the paralysis of Appellate Body and upholding the rules-based multilateral trading system. Thank you!

Bloomberg: It’s said that the current outbreak of COVID-19 in Beijing might be linked to seafood imported from other countries. In light of that, would MOFCOM consider temporarily stopping importing meat, fish and other seafood imported via cold-chain transportation from countries hit hard by COVID-19?

Importing more food and agricultural products is a vital part of China’s policy of actively boosting imports. Imported food and agricultural products should comply with relevant quarantine and inspection rules of China.

We would work with relevant departments to strengthen coordination and communication with relevant countries, so as to ensure the quality and safety of imported food and agricultural products from the source, and safeguard the health and safety of Chinese consumers. Thank you!

China News Service: Could you please talk about the supply of daily necessities in Beijing? What will MOFCOM do to stabilize Beijing’s supply of vegetables, meat and fruit?

Gao Feng: So far, the supply of daily necessities in Beijing is abundant overall, with prices at a generally stable level. On June 17, the average retail price of vegetables in key enterprises under monitoring increased by 4.7% day-to-day; the average retail price of pork remained the same; the average retail price of beef, mutton and eggs went up by 0.3%, 0.4% and 0.7% respectively from the previous day. The supply of rice, flour and cooking oil remained stable, with minor price fluctuations.

The city has responded swiftly to the outbreak from the outset. It has imposed effective measures, such as setting up temporary trading facilities, bolstering market supply, increasing direct purchases from producers, and deploying government stockpile. These measures have helped satisfy unmet demand and ensure overall stability of Beijing’s daily necessities supply.

As for MOFCOM, we have also been contributing our part in this respect.

First, under our coordination, neighboring provinces and municipalities have increased their supply of vegetables to Beijing. They include Shandong, Hebei and Henan, to name a few. From June 15 to 16, Hebei has distributed 3,000 tons of vegetables to Beijing.

Second, we have ensured access to stockpile to prepare for emergencies. We have contacted key suppliers around Beijing to make plans and secure supplies. With our assistance so far, stockpile management companies in Beijing has worked with production bases in Shouguang, Shandong to for an additional 5,000 tons of temporary vegetable reserve. And under our guidance, large enterprises such as COFCO have boosted their supply of grains and cooking oil to supermarket chains in Beijing.

Third, we have started putting pork reserve on the market. In last few days, we have worked with relevant authorities to release 10,000 tons of central pork reserve to the market to expand supply. Based on market dynamics, we will continue to put pork reserve on the market in a well-timed manner.

Fourth, we have strengthened market monitoring and on-duty emergency response efforts. We have established a daily reporting scheme for Beijing’s daily necessities supply, and stayed in close contact with Beijing Bureau of Commerce to respond and handle abnormal conditions as they arise, in order to avoid fluctuations in the supply of daily necessities in Beijing. Thank you.

Xinhua News Agency: As we get into the fourth day of the Canton Fair, how active are foreign buyers after it was moved online? What new challenges has this new form posed to exhibitors and buyers?

Gao Feng: To move the 127th Canton Fair online is a creative step to cushion the impact of the epidemic and stabilize the fundamentals of foreign trade and foreign investmen, and a concrete action to defend the multilateral trading system and support economic globalization. This year the Canton Fair , inaugurated on June 15th, witnessed active participation of businesses and merchants from home and abroad. A group of exhibitors made full preparation in advance. To adapt to the online exhibition, they have adjusted marketing approaches, and some companies held over 40 live-streamed events within three days. Up to now, the exhibitors have held over 80,000 live-streamed events. Many of them said the online exhibition and live-streaming have attracted a large traffic and yield positive results.

Holding the online Canton Fairs enables more merchants to participate with more efficient organization and lower transaction cost. But it is quite different from traditional face-to-face meetings, on-site visits, trial, and deal-making. It is a brand new experience for those who are accustomed to offline engagement. Thus we offered multiple trainings in advance so that the exhibitors and buyers familiarize themselves with the new format, adapt to and build trust in online communication and transaction. We will continue to provide training and guidance on the exhibition and conference participation, invite more overseas buyers to join, and improve the functioning of the official website. In this way, we hope exhibitors and merchants will have better experience and greater success. Thank you.

Gao Feng: This is the end of the press conference. Thank you.

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