BEIJING – China has promised to implement policies to keep the country’s trade growth stable and improve its competitiveness amid frictions with the United States, the trade minister said on Saturday.
Speaking at a press conference of the 19th Communist Party of China National Congress, Zhong Shan said that the government would facilitate trade through export credit insurance, financing and other actions to reduce burdens and improve companies’ efficiency.
“Generally speaking, China’s trade is huge in scale, but not competitive enough,” the trade minister said, state-run news agency Xinhua reported.
To improve its competitiveness of foreign trade, China will encourage exports of high-tech, high-quality and high-value-added products, he added.
When asked about the impact of ongoing trade frictions with the US in coming months, the minister said that the country hopes to maintain stable trade growth in 2019.
Beijing also plans to increase imports, explore emerging trade markets and continue promoting international cooperation through its Belt and Road Initiative, the minister said.
Data released by the General Administration of Customs on Friday showed that China’s foreign trade declined 9.4 percent year-on-year in February owing to the week-long Lunar New Year holiday and the trade dispute with the US.
Last year, China’s foreign trade grew 9.7 percent inter-annually, a slowdown of 4.5 percent compared to the growth rate in 2017 due to factors such as the friction with Washington. Negotiations between the two powers to resolve their trade dispute are ongoing.
US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping agreed during a Dec. 1 meeting in Buenos Aires to observe a 90-day truce in the trade battle between the world’s two largest economies.
Trump’s administration had set March 1 as the deadline when a trade deal had to be reached in the talks or Washington would hike tariffs from 10 to 25 percent on some $200 billion in yearly imports of Chinese goods.
On Feb. 24, Trump decided to postpone the tariff hike, following the end of a new round of trade talks between his team and the Chinese delegation.
He highlighted the substantial progress made during the talks in various areas such as technology transfer, intellectual property, agriculture and currencies.
The US and China have been holding rounds of talks in the two nations’ capitals over recent weeks with an eye toward striking a trade pact.
China has already adopted several goodwill measures in pursuit of an accord, such as lowering tariffs on US vehicle imports, resuming soy purchases from the United States and introducing an initiative that would prohibit forced technology transfer from American countries doing business in the Asian nation.
US has a significant trade deficit with Beijing, something that Trump had consistently blamed on unfair practices by China, which had led to the tariff stand-off between the two countries.
In 2017, US exported $130 billion worth of products to China, while Beijing exported $506 billion worth of products to the American market.