Taicang Port in Jiangsu province. (JI HAIXIN/FOR CHINA DAILY)
Premier: Measures will be taken to spur consumption and promote foreign trade
China will adopt policy measures to boost consumption as part of efforts to keep economic fundamentals stable to ensure and improve people's livelihoods, according to a decision made at the State Council's executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday.
The meeting also decided on greater policy support such as export rebates to promote the steady growth of foreign trade.
"Consumption is a steady driver of economic growth and bears on ensuring and improving people's livelihoods," Li said.
"It is vital to take a coordinated approach with both near- and long-term needs in mind, to keep consumption stable for now and unlock potential with holistic measures."
Relief policies for hard-hit sectors such as catering, retail, tourism, civil aviation, and road, water and rail transportation will be promptly and fully delivered. Local authorities are encouraged to intensify support and assistance for these sectors to stabilize more market entities in consumer services.
The supply and price stability of essential consumer goods will be ensured, and logistics kept smooth. A host of large-scale warehouses with comprehensive functions will be planned in a well-calibrated manner and built on the outskirts of cities to mobilize living necessities in close vicinity in case of emergency.
"Financial institutions should enhance support for consumption of big-ticket items. Meanwhile, such consumption should be made more available in rural areas to help improve people's lives," Li said.
Spending on home appliances, automobiles, and other big-ticket items will be encouraged. No new restrictive measures on car purchases will be set at the sub-national level.
Localities with purchase restrictions already in place should increase new license plate quotas step by step.
Consumer spending potential of counties and townships will be further tapped. Commerce distribution businesses and e-commerce platforms will be guided toward bringing their services to rural areas, and consumption of brand and high-quality products will be promoted in rural areas.
Construction of key projects will be expedited, and consumption-related infrastructure development may be funded through special-purpose bonds by local governments, to leverage the catalytic role of investment in expanding consumption.
To help ease difficulties facing foreign trade firms and promote stable growth, export rebates will be better utilized as an inclusive and equitable policy tool that is consistent with international rules, and the business environment for foreign trade will be improved on multiple fronts.
"The fast growth of imports and exports last year contributed significantly to stable economic activity, but pressure is mounting in maintaining the steady growth of foreign trade this year," Li said. "We must work hard to maintain stability in foreign trade. All departments concerned should work together and implement relevant measures fully on the ground."
The process for export rebates will be expedited. Cross-departmental data sharing will be enhanced, paperwork required for export rebates will be simplified, and the entire process from declaration to review and feedback will be handled online.
The average time needed for export rebates will be cut from seven to no more than six working days this year. Integrated foreign trade service firms will be supported in handling export rebates on behalf of manufacturers.
The business environment for foreign trade will be improved. Customs clearance for returning export goods will be made more efficient. In addition, policies will be devised to support the development of overseas warehouses and facilitate cross-border e-commerce returns and exchanges.