China will adopt policy measures to boost consumption, as part of efforts to keep economic fundamentals stable and ensure and improve people’s lives, according to a decision made at the State Council’s Executive Meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday.
The meeting also decided on greater policy support such as export rebates to promote steady growth of foreign trade.
“Consumption is a steady driver of economic growth and bears on ensuring and improving people’s livelihood.” Li said. “It is vital to take a coordinated approach with both near- and long-term needs in mind, to keep consumption stable for now and unlock potential with holistic measures.”
The meeting decided on measures to counter the impact of COVID-19 and boost the recovery and growth of consumption.
Relief policies for hard-hit sectors such as catering, retail, tourism, civil aviation, and road, waterway and railway transportation will be promptly and fully delivered, and local authorities encouraged to intensify support and assistance for these sectors, to stabilize more market entities in consumer services.
The supply and price stability of essential consumer goods will be ensured, and logistics kept smooth. A host of large-scale warehouses with comprehensive functions will be planned in a well-calibrated manner and built on the outskirts of cities to mobilize living necessities in close vicinity in case of emergency.
New types of consumption will be promoted. Integration of online and brick-and-mortar consumption will be accelerated, and “smart plus” consumption such as smart products and services will be cultivated and strengthened.
“Financial institutions should enhance support for consumption of big-ticket items. Meanwhile, such consumption should be made more available in rural areas to help improve people’s lives,” Li said.
Consumption in priority areas will be expanded. Consumption of such services as medical and health care, elderly care, and child care will be promoted, and the private sector will be supported in providing such services to shore up the weak links.
Spending on home appliances, automobiles, and other big-ticket items will be encouraged. No new restrictive measures on car purchase shall be set at the sub-national level. Localities with purchase restrictions already in place should increase new license plate quota step by step. Consumption of new-energy vehicles and construction of battery charging facilities will be supported.
Consumer spending potential of counties and townships will be further tapped. Commerce distribution businesses and e-commerce platforms will be guided toward bringing their services to rural areas, and consumption of brand and higher-quality products will be promoted in rural areas.
Reform will be deepened to remove consumption constraints. Sound and steady development of consumption platforms will be advanced. Financial institutions will be encouraged to develop a greater variety of consumer financial products.
Construction of key projects will be expedited, and consumption-related infrastructure development may be funded by local government special-purpose bonds, to leverage the catalytic role of investment in expanding consumption. Irregularities such as counterfeiting, pricing fraud and false advertising will be punished pursuant to law.
To help ease the difficulties facing foreign trade firms and promote stable growth of import and export, export rebates will be better utilized as an inclusive and equitable policy tool that is consistent with international rules, and the business environment for foreign trade will be improved on multiple fronts.
“The fast growth of import and export last year contributed significantly to the stable economic activity. Yet pressure is mounting in maintaining steady growth of foreign trade this year,” Li said. “We must work hard to maintain stability in foreign trade. All departments concerned should work in concert and implement relevant measures fully on the ground.”
Export rebates will be better aligned with export credit insurance. Export credit insurance indemnities received by foreign trade enterprises will be regarded as foreign exchange receipts and rebates will be provided accordingly. The coverage of the departure tax refund policy will be expanded, and facilitation measures such as tax refund upon purchase will be promoted.
The process for export rebates will be expedited. Cross-departmental data sharing will be enhanced, paperwork required for export rebates will be simplified, and the entire process from declaration, to review and feedback will be handled online.
The average time needed for export rebates will be further cut from seven to no more than six working days this year. Integrated foreign trade service firms will be supported in handling export rebates on behalf of manufacturers.
The business environment for foreign trade will be improved. Customs clearance for returning export goods will be made more efficient. Policies will be devised to support the development of overseas warehouses and facilitate cross-border e-commerce returns and exchanges.
Enterprises with better credit record will enjoy greater facilitation in customs clearance and tax refund. Malpractices such as false export and fraudulent tax rebates will be punished to the full extent of law.