Assistant Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen
June 19, 2014
Honorable Chairman of FIATA, Mr. Francesco Parisi,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to attend the 8th Asia-Pacific annual conference of FIATA today. On behalf of the Ministry of Commerce of China, I wish you warm welcome to visit China
Import and export trade is crucial to the development of freight forwarding business. In 1978 when the clarion call for reform and opening-up was sounded, China’s foreign trade base was weak, with a total volume of only 20.6 billion US dollars in that year. Thirty years later, in 2013, China’s foreign trade had climbed to 4.2 trillion US dollars, representing an average annual growth rate of 16% and providing job opportunities for over one hundred million people.
China’s foreign trade was hard hit by the outbreak of international financial crisis in 2008. Yet, our policy to stabilize growth, adjust structure and promote balance has proved effective, and our foreign trade even expanded in the midst of a crisis. In 2013 China exported goods worth more than 2.2 trillion dollars and imported about 2 trillion dollars, with and annual increase of about 8% and over 7% respectively. As a result, China’s foreign trade took up a larger share globally compared to 2012, with export up by 0.7 percentage point and import by 0.5 percentage point. This has made China the largest trading nation in goods in the world.
2013 China’s foreign trade freight stood at 3.6 billion tons with an annual increase of 4.4%. Among the world’s ten largest ports in terms of handling capacity, 8 are located in China. In 2013 Chinese ports accounted for 81.1% of the freight volume handled by the world’s 10 largest ports, which further points to the encouraging prospects of freight forwarding business.
For the first five months of this year, China’s foreign trade freight reached 1.58 billion tons, growing by 7.2%. In breakdown, export freight stood at 550 million tons and import 920 million tons, growing by 4.3% and 9% respectively. The growth in freight volume indicates the continued development of freight forwarding.
As for the outlook on China’s foreign trade in the next half-year, the sustained recovery of Europe, the US and Japan, coupled by the previous adjustment of exchange rate and the government policy to stabilize foreign trade, augurs well for foreign trade growth. The continued expansion of foreign trade provides a large development space for freight forwarding.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an opportune moment for us to have the FIATA Asia-Pacific conference in China. As the host of APEC, China has held and is going to hold a series of meetings. Last month we held the APEC MRT in Qingdao, where we reached many consensuses on further liberalizing and facilitating trade and investment.
China sets great store by cooperating with the Asia-Pacific region, not only because China lies within the region, but also because APEC members are our important partners in terms of trade and economic cooperation. In 2013 60% of China’s foreign trade was with APEC members; 83% of utilized FDI in China originated from APEC members, and 69 % of outward investment went to APEC members. Among China’s ten largest trading partners, 8 are APEC members. In 2013 76% of China’s foreign trade freight was with Asia, which stood at 2.72 billion tons.
At present, as the economic integration of the Asia-Pacific goes deeper, many FTAs have been signed between the members. According to initial estimates, 132 FTAs have been signed within APEC region, 75 are still under negotiation and more than 50 have been proposed. China has been engaging in 18 FTAs, among which 12 have already been signed, covering 31 countries and regions.
Some articles in FTAs involve rules of origin, TBT, SPS and other trade facilitation issues. For example, by introducing mutual recognition of AEO to facilitate customs clearance of goods, including reducing check rate, simplifying document examination and allowing priority clearance of imported goods, export clearance efficiency will be improved for freight forwarders.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Advisory Body of Information Technology (ABIT for short) under FIATA is committed to promoting cross-border e-commerce.
In recent years, China’s cross-border e-commerce has maintained a momentum of rapid growth. B2B and B2C companies as well as C2C practitioners have experienced fast growth, and turned into a new source of growth and highlight of China’s foreign trade. Among them, Jingdong has gone public; Alibaba has started the listing process; the number of registers of the four cross-border e-commerce platforms recommended by MOFCOM, namely, AliExpress, DHgate, Made-in China.com and Trade2cn.com has increased by over 10 %, which has driven the growth in freight forwarding related services such as logistics and warehousing.
The advantages of cross-border e-commerce help provide a favorable environment for SMEs and micro businesses to explore international markets and fit into global value chains. It is estimated that among all registered new business entities, over 90 % are SMEs and self-employed businesses. Many SMEs and micro businesses that seek to expand export through e-commerce platforms are potential clients for freight forwarders.
At present, a number of Chinese freight forwarders are actively innovating on cross-border e-commerce freight ports and platforms. Some of them have developed e-commerce space booking platforms, which is a breakthrough for traditional operation, management and organization models. Some of the companies have developed cloud platforms of international logistics and electronic platforms of cross-border air logistics to provide one-stop services, which will further improve the competitiveness of China’s freight forwarding industry.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference held in Bali, Indonesia last December, an agreement was reached on trade facilitation. It is estimated that for middle-income countries like China, the Trade Facilitation Agreement will reduce trade costs by 13%, and increase export by around 10%. As China’s export increases, freight volume also rises, which will be translated into new business opportunities for freight forwarding industry. In the meantime, the Trade Facilitation Agreement can also help create a transparent, stable and predictable environment for the international freight forwarding business.
Since its inception in September 2000, China International Freight Forwarders Association (CIFA for short) has played an effective role as the bond and bridge between governments and companies. By listening and giving voice to freight forwarders, safeguarding the legitimate rights of the industry, and actively participating in FIATA-sponsored events, CIFA’s efforts have won recognition and approval worldwide.
The Ministry of Commerce, as the competent authority of the industry, will continue to care for and provide support to CIFA and the freight forwarding industry. We hope to work together with you to make new contributions to the sustained development of the international freight forwarding industry in China, in Asia Pacific Region and indeed throughout the world. .