Authorities in East China's Zhejiang province recently rolled out 10 measures to stabilize its foreign trade and foreign investment and to tackle difficulties faced by foreign trade businesses.
The measures, published on the official website of the Zhejiang provincial people's government on Monday, seek to boost cross-border trade by streamlining the process for businesspeople to enter and leave the country, expand the international market, provide support to small and micro businesses in international maritime logistics, reduce financing costs for businesses and facilitate settlement in international trade and investment, among others.
Specifically, it is stipulated that 24-hour special service windows should be set up to issue documents needed in a timely fashion for businesspeople who follow China's COVID-19 control protocols to enter and exit the border. Support will also be offered to foreigners for their stay when they come to Zhejiang to invest, establish new businesses, conduct scientific research and engage in trade activities.
Moreover, chartered flights for business purposes will be arranged and the number of scheduled flights will be increased as well.
Last Sunday, 36 passengers on board a chartered flight set off from Ningbo in Zhejiang for Budapest in Hungary, starting a 12-day business tour in Europe. It is China's first flight that has been chartered solely for business tours since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A survey conducted by the Ningbo Municipal Bureau of Commerce on 1,982 local companies whose annual import and export value surpassed $10 million shows that, as of the end of June, 40 percent of them had received fewer purchase orders from their foreign clients compared with last year.
The ongoing pandemic continues to pose a slew of challenges for China's foreign trade businesses, one of which is the inability of businesspeople to conduct face-to-face negotiations with their foreign counterparts and attend overseas exhibitions in person.
According to the measures, Zhejiang plans to organize at least 50 professional exhibitions abroad to support local companies in their efforts to expand into the international market and boost their development.
At the same time, Zhejiang province will offer one-time financial support for the setup of regional headquarters or R&D centers newly established by foreign-funded companies in the province.
In addition, direct communication mechanisms between Zhejiang's leadership and heads of multinational companies or persons who are responsible for major investment projects in leading companies such as those on the Fortune Global 500 list will be established to promote further cooperation.
In 2021, Zhejiang's total import and export volume ranked third in China, lower only than that of Guangdong province and Jiangsu province.
Statistics from Hangzhou Customs show that Zhejiang's imports and exports volume hit 1.83 trillion yuan ($273.4 billion) from January to May, up 17.6 percent, of which exports reached 1.34 trillion yuan, an increase of 21.4 percent, and imports reached 481.69 billion yuan or an increase of 8.0 percent.
Meanwhile, China's foreign trade jumped 9.4 percent year-on-year during the first half of the year to 19.8 trillion yuan, according to the latest figures from the General Administration of Customs.