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Premier stresses stabilizing foreign trade through opening-up

Updated: Jun 16,2020 02:46 PM

Efforts are needed to stabilize the fundamentals of foreign trade and investment and expand opening-up, to shore up the recovery of the global economy affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Premier Li Keqiang said on June 15.

On the morning of June 15, Premier Li kicked off the 127th China Import and Export Fair (also known as the Canton Fair), an online trade gathering of nearly 26,000 enterprises across the world seeking to publicize themselves and their products.

This is the first virtual version of the Canton Fair, which has been regarded as the barometer of China's foreign trade since its inception in 1957.

While inspecting the online exhibitions, Premier Li communicated with representatives from three participating enterprises through video.

Promote Made in China brand

Home appliances maker Gree displayed a range of products including air conditioners, refrigerators and kitchen ventilators.

In the video link, Dong Mingzhu, chairwoman and president of the company, briefed Premier Li on the global growth trajectory of its "Made in China" brand, which has shifted from an AC-dominant model to whole-industrial-chain appliance services, with proprietary brands serving 160 countries.

Asked about the company's overseas orders in the past two months, Dong said their exports remain consistent with the situation last year, and Gree looks to align its products with anti-epidemic needs through technological innovation and boost sales.

The Premier praised Gree for ongoing sci-tech innovations centered on market demands to improve product quality and foster the market competitiveness of Chinese brands amid the epidemic.

He expressed the hope that the enterprise could continue to play a leading role in promoting the "Made in China" brand.

Push more SMEs onto global stage

Premier Li then talked with Xiang Lehong, chairman and general manager of Loctek Ergonomic Technology Corp, a provider of ergonomic solutions for home and office, to understand what support it needs to tackle current difficulties.

The manufacturer has increased exports through developing cross-border e-commerce despite some challenges brought by the external market environment, Xiang said.

Xiang considered cross-border e-commerce the new business norm for exports, saying international trade is increasingly digitalized as the COVID-19 epidemic is likely to exist for a long time.

Given that trend, Xiang expected government support to help Loctek expand and build over 20 overseas warehouses in the future, as part of its move to bolster the global presence of more small and medium-sized enterprises on the back of cross-border e-commerce.

Premier Li acknowledged the inclusive mindset of Loctek that relies on innovations and platforms to grow, adding that this approach will enable both large enterprises and SMEs to survive and thrive through cross-border e-commerce, and also give a boost to Loctek's development.

With the pandemic raging, cross-border e-commerce has emerged as a strategy for business survival and competition, the Premier said, asking related departments to investigate the company’s suggestion and offer support.

Expand markets at home and abroad

The third business visited by Premier Li via video link was a bathroom-supply company. The CEO of the company, Wang Yanqing, said that over 60 percent of its products are exports for more than 100 countries and regions, and that this year the company plans to manage international client relationships during the pandemic through the online fair.

Premier Li asked about the estimated international orders in the second half of the year. Wang said despite export sales declining in the first half of the year, they have proactively expanded the home market, participated in projects such as renovation of old residential communities, and as a result domestic sales grew by 25 percent in May, and chances are revenue and profit will stop dropping in the second half of the year.

Premier Li appreciated their efforts, adding that ceramics belongs to typical traditional industries that are under continuous upgrades and development.

As consumption and its upgrade have been promoted, the Premier encouraged the company to enhance products' competitiveness for bigger international markets, and to make use of reconstruction of old residential areas amid new urbanization to transfer exports to domestic markets. The Premier also stressed improving product quality and diversifying categories, in order to meet the vast demand and gain larger markets at home.

Traditional industries could also turn out to be "gold mines", said the Premier.

Stabilize fundamentals of foreign trade and investment

After the visits via video link, Premier Li called for efforts to ensure stability on the six fronts and security in the six areas, adding that related departments should work together to maintain the stability of industrial and supply chains, and stabilize the fundamentals of foreign trade and investment.

Premier Li said the China Import and Export Fair continued on air despite the current COVID-19 epidemic, which has been an innovative method for this special time. The Premier also said the fair has explored new paths for international trade development, showing the world China’s determination to further open up and secure international industrial and supply chains.

Premier Li said, "China is a big and open market with strong growth potential. We will continue to enhance import facilitation and increase the import of marketable products so that companies from other countries can share opportunities in China's big market."

He stressed that current international trade and technical exchanges must not be interrupted, saying China is determined to further open and willing to work with companies from other countries to achieve win-win cooperation and mutual benefit, contributing to the recovery and development of the world economy.