China Hopes to Stabilise Foreign Trade in 2021 via E-commerce and Restored US Relations, Mulls Joining CPTPP


The Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) says the stabilisation of foreign trade and investment levels is a critical policy priority in 2021, as the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and relations between Beijing and Washington remain tense.

At a press conference held on 24 February MOFCOM head Wang Wentao (王文涛) said that Chinese foreign trade and investment still faces “severely complexity” in 2021, and that keeping both on an even keel is a major goal for the year.

Wang said that China is currently in the process of drafting a development strategy for e-commerce during the 14th Five Year Plan, in order to foster the growth of new segments such as live-streaming e-commerce and fresh produce e-commerce.

China will also target unfair competition and monopoly issues in the e-commerce sector, with MOFCOM stressing the need for compliant regulation and prevention of the “disorderly expansion” of capital.

With regard to Sino-US relations, MOFCOM said that China will “focus on cooperation, management and containment of differences, and driving bilateral trade and economic relations to return to the path of cooperation.”

MOFCOM points out that in 2020 China became the biggest trading partner of the European Union for the first time, while negotiations on the China-EU Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) also came to a close.

China is also giving consideration to joining the Comprehensive and Progress Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), with MOFCOM revealing that it is currently reviewing the provisions of the Agreement, and engaging in informal liaison with a number of member states.