Trade set for marked gain in both quality and structure in 2020 despite global protectionism

By Ma Jingjing Source:Global Times Published: 2020/1/6 22:48:41

Graphics: GT

China's foreign trade sector will see a remarkable improvement in 2020 in quality and structural optimization as well as competitiveness, although global protectionism may give rise to more trade friction and uncertainty, experts said on Monday.

"The China-EU bilateral investment treaty agreement and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership are expected to be signed in 2020, while the China-Japan-South Korea free trade agreement will likely make progress, too," Zhang Monan, principal investigator of the institute of American and European studies at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, told the Global Times.

"Although these agreements won't boost China's foreign trade growth rate in the short term, they will help promote the growth quality of the sector," she said.

In 2019, China's exports of high-value-added products such as integrated circuits, solar products and healthcare machinery posted double-digit in unit price, while its foreign trade with emerging markets increased 1.7 percentage points to 59.5 percent of the total, according to data from the Ministry of Commerce.

In the first 11 months of last year, China's foreign trade stood at 28.5 trillion yuan ($4.09 trillion), up 2.4 percent year-on-year, data from the General Administration of Customs showed. The country's trade surplus was 2.61 trillion yuan during the same period.

However, China still needs to step up efforts to stabilize trade in 2020, amid China-US trade tensions and the EU's slowing economic growth, Bai Ming, deputy director of the Ministry of Commerce's International Market Research Institute, told the Global Times on Monday.

To maintain stable trade growth, the Chinese government has taken a series of measures, for example, implementing import tax rates that are even lower than the most favored nation tariff rates for more than 850 items since January 1.

Following the upgraded China-Singapore and China-Association of Southeast Asian Nations free trade agreements that took effect in October 2019, the second phase of the China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement came into effect on January 1, creating more conditions for reducing trade costs.

Zhang Jiying, manager of Yiwu-based RST Umbrella in East China's Zhejiang Province, told the Global Times on Monday that she forecast the company's export volume will grow this year, noting that more orders are coming from Central and Eastern Europe thanks to convenient transportation.

"Through the China Railway Express, it now takes about 16-18 days for our umbrellas to reach European countries, greatly reducing logistics time compared with sea shipments," Zhang said. 

She said the company is expected to sell 2 million umbrellas this year in part due to the burgeoning of cross-border e-commerce.

Zhang Monan said 2020 will become a crucial year for China to carry out higher-level opening-up. 

"China should actively participate in, change or even lead the new round of global landscape changes. Amid global structural uncertainties, 2020 will be a new start for the world and for China's upgrading and reform," she said, noting that the nation is expected to step up reform in intellectual property rights, state-owned enterprises and industrial subsidies.


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