A U.S. cargo ship docks at the Qingdao Port, Shandong province. (Photo by Yu Shaoyue/For China Daily)
Premier Li calls for targeted policies to 'forestall damage' to wider economy
China will work to shorten the negative list on foreign investment and encourage financial institutions to increase foreign trade loans to cope with the impact of the novel coronavirus epidemic and keep steady progress in foreign trade and investment.
This was decided at the State Council's executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday.
"Keeping foreign trade and foreign investment stable is vitally important as the Chinese economy is deeply integrated into the world economy. Given the severe impact of the epidemic on foreign trade, we must implement targeted policies to arrest the slide in foreign trade and foreign investment, to forestall damage to the wider economy," Li said.
Efforts must be intensified to shorten the negative list on foreign investment and expand the number of industries in which foreign investment is encouraged, so that foreign investors in more sectors benefit from tax and other incentives, said a statement issued after the meeting.
Participants at the meeting called for sound preparations to be made for the China Import and Export Fair (Canton Fair) this spring to bolster cooperation in the nation's foreign trade.
The meeting decided that all export tax rebates must be made in full and without delay except for energy intensive, polluting and resource sectors.
Financial institutions will be encouraged to increase foreign trade loans, fully implement the policy of loan deferment, and consider further rolling over loans made to smaller firms deeply affected by the outbreak but with good prospects.
Commercial insurance companies will be supported in offering short-term export credit insurance services and lowering premium rates.
Meanwhile, recent tax and fee relief policies designed to help companies in difficulty should equally apply to both domestic and foreign-invested enterprises.
Figures released by the General Administration of Customs on Saturday show that the country's imports and exports totaled 4.12 trillion yuan ($590 billion) in the first two months of this year, down by 9.6 percent year-on-year.
"All companies, regardless of size or type of ownership, should benefit from the recent policies designed to ease their difficulties. We must swiftly work out a further shortened negative list on the access of foreign investment to more clearly demonstrate our firm resolve on opening-up," Li said.