China's foreign trade shows resilience despite many challenges
China's foreign trade sustained resilience and growth momentum in the first three months of this year despite increasingly complex challenges and risks.
The country's total imports and exports expanded 7.9 percent year-on-year to reach 12.58 trillion yuan (about $1.88 trillion) in the January-March period, according to official data.
The resilience of China's foreign trade can be attributed to the efforts of businesses and a slew of policies to help enterprises tide over ongoing difficulties.
Some enterprises engaging in foreign trade have promoted the better integration of the domestic and international markets and greater complementarity between domestic and global resources, improving their competitiveness in global industrial and supply chains.
Recently, TCL China Star Optoelectronics Technology Co., Ltd. (TCL CSOT), a world-leading panel supplier under Chinese consumer electronics company TCL Corp in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong Province, exported its products to TCL's plant in Mexico.
In the past, TCL directly exported TV sets. Nowadays the company ships liquid crystal display panels and electronic parts and components to its production base in Mexico, where TV sets are assembled, in this way reducing costs. The approach has played a key role in improving the competitiveness of TCL products in North America.
"Ten years ago, we were hindered by the short supply of screens. But we have mastered core technologies to produce major parts and components such as screens," said Zhao Jun, chief operating officer of TCL CSOT.
It's estimated that China's large-size liquid crystal display panels will reach or exceed 70 percent of the global market by 2023.
In the first two months of this year, TCL's exports reached $2.77 billion, up 2.2 percent year-on-year. In the first quarter of this year, TCL CSOT exported 12 million TV screens. TCL's plant in Mexico can produce and assemble modules and inner wiring.
"TCL's revenue growth in overseas markets is facilitated by the building of complete industrial and supply chains across the globe," said Li Dongsheng, founder and president of TCL. Li added that building complete industrial and supply chains globally can effectively boost enterprises' exports of core components, materials and equipment while significantly increasing their global competitiveness.
Meanwhile, new business forms and models of foreign trade such as cross-border e-commerce, overseas warehouses, and the market purchase trade are thriving in China, becoming new drivers for the high-quality development of the country's foreign trade.
Hangzhou Santa Technology Co., Ltd., a company based in Hangzhou, capital city of east China's Zhejiang Province, saw its overseas sales of electric bicycles grow by 15 percent in a half year.
"Overseas customers can try our bikes at sales outlets before buying, and after-sales services can be guaranteed," said Zhu Guoqiang, general manager of the company, attributing this to the establishment of an overseas warehouse.
To explore overseas markets, Santa Technology once rented warehouses outside China, but high rental costs and inconvenient communications made it difficult for the company to achieve its desired results.
Zhejiang Cathy International Freight Forwarding Co., Ltd., an international freight forwarder in the city, extended an olive branch to Zhu, inviting him to join its overseas warehouse in Los Angeles, the U.S., where products can be displayed at a 200-square meter operation and service center and professionals are able to provide after-sales services.
Zhu introduced that the overseas warehouse has helped his company save on costs adding up to more than $1 million every year.
The international freight forwarder has so far built 16 self-operated overseas warehouses with a combined area of more than 100,000 square meters.
Ma Shuzhong, director of the International Business Institute at Zhejiang University, said digital and intelligent overseas warehouses can solve the bottleneck problems in cross-border logistics and after-sales services to a greater extent, while helping cross-border enterprises operate at a lower cost, promoting high-quality operations, improving logistics efficiency and providing customers a better shopping experience, thus enhancing the resilience of China's foreign trade.
At present, Zhejiang has built 791 overseas warehouses covering a total area of 9.5 million square meters in over 40 countries and regions.
Besides, China has continued to deepen multilateral, bilateral, and regional cooperation and promote high-quality development through the Belt and Road Initiative, creating favorable conditions for exporters to explore emerging markets.
China has implemented the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, the world's largest free trade agreement, bringing new opportunities for enterprises to explore new markets.
Data from the Guangdong branch of the General Administration of Customs of China (GACC) showed that the total trade volume of Guangdong with RCEP members reached 343.89 billion yuan, up 2.7 percent year-on-year, in the first two months of this year. The RCEP has improved customs clearance efficiency and cut tariffs, serving as a key fulcrum for stabilizing foreign trade.
China will continue to improve the business environment for foreign trade and make customs clearance for returning export goods more efficient, according to the State Council executive meeting held on April 13.
To help ease difficulties facing foreign trade firms and promote stable growth, all localities and government departments have rolled out a slew of measures to stabilize the overall performance of foreign trade and support exporters in optimizing their structure and building brands to further raise the added value of their products and improve their international competitiveness.