Via China Daily

A US cargo ship docks at the Qingdao Port, Shandong province. [Photo by Yu Shaoyue/For China Daily]

China will spare no effort to stabilize foreign trade by increasing financial, insurance and fiscal support and strengthening cooperation with regional trade partners, especially Japan and South Korea, as the novel coronavirus pneumonia epidemic spreads worldwide, the Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday.

Li Xingqian, director-general of the ministry’s Department of Foreign Trade, identified four priorities to stabilize foreign trade from the epidemic’s fallout.

First, the ministry will give more financial support to foreign companies, such as increasing credit availability to meet exporters’ financing needs, Li said at a news conference. Second, it will expand the coverage of short-term export-credit insurance, and work to decrease insurance rates within a reasonable range.

The ministry also will improve policies related to export rebates to reduce enterprises’ costs while strengthening cooperation with major trading partners, Li said.

Apart from China, countries severely affected by the COVID-19 outbreak include South Korea and Japan, raising concerns about trade prospects in Asia and around the world.

Li said the outbreak’s spread will bring pressure on the growth of the global economy and international trade, and will also have an effect on China.

“China, Japan, and South Koreaas the three biggest economies in East Asia-play an important role in regional and global economic growth, prosperity and stability,” Li said.

China will further boost economic and trade cooperation with the other two countries, giving full play to industrial complementarities and promoting trade and investment between the nations, he said.

China will work with Japan and South Korea to jointly promote the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement as scheduled, and speed negotiations for the China-Japan-South Korea free trade agreement, Li added.

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A group of 15 Asia-Pacific countries are expected to sign the RCEP in 2020. RCEP would be the world’s largest trade agreement.

Since the outbreak, the ministry has rolled out a series of measures to stabilize the supply chain and industrial chain related to international trade. It has helped foreign enterprises, including Japanese and South Korean companies, to surmount difficulties in resuming work and production.

Li forecast greater potential for trade cooperation between China, Japan and South Korea once the contagion is controlled.