By Luo Shanshan, People’s Daily
China’s foreign trade and investment hit new highs last year, making positive contributions to the continued recovery and development of the national economy.
In 2021, China’s total trade in goods climbed to $6.05 trillion from more than $4 trillion in the previous year, exceeding the $6 trillion mark for the first time. At the same time, the country’s foreign direct investment (FDI), in actual use, expanded 14.9 percent year on year to more than one trillion yuan ($157.4 billion) for the first time.
The steady increase in foreign trade and investment mirrors the high-quality development of the Chinese economy.
Last year, China’s number of enterprises engaged in foreign trade increased by 36,000 to 567,000.
As cross-border e-commerce, market procurement trade, and other new business forms and models flourish in the country, the numbers of integrated foreign trade service firms in China, overseas warehouses, and bonded maintenance projects operated by Chinese companies have exceeded 1,500, 2,000, and 130, respectively.
The country has witnessed a significant rise in the quality of FDI projects, with high-tech industries enjoying a 17.1-percent year-on-year growth in FDI and accounting for 30.2 percent of the total FDI into China last year.
Such data show that China’s foreign trade and investment not only maintained steady growth but gained new vitality and enjoyed high-quality development.
Faced with challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, China has, in the context of ongoing COVID-19 response, explored new drivers of economic growth, new modes of social life, and new pathways for people-to-people exchange to facilitate cross-border trade and keep industrial and supply chains secure and smooth, which will certainly promote steady and solid progress in global economic recovery.
The stable performance of foreign trade and investment demonstrates the success of China’s endeavor to pursue high-level opening-up.
China put into practice a series of opening-up measures, including advancing the construction of pilot free trade zones (FTZs), free trade ports, comprehensive opening-up trials in the service sector and other opening-up platforms, hosting international exhibitions including the China International Import Expo (CIIE), China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) and China Import and Export Fair, and further pushing ahead with reforms aimed at promoting trade and investment liberalization and facilitation. These measures have sustained the expectations and confidence of market entities and effectively stabilized foreign trade and investment.
Last year, 21 pilot FTZs in China, the country’s highlands in opening-up, contributed 18.5 percent to the total FDI into China and 17.3 percent to the country’s imports and exports.
China’s trade in goods with countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) reached 11.6 trillion yuan in 2021, a new high in eight years, rising 23.6 percent year on year and making up 29.7 percent of the country’s total foreign trade. Meanwhile, investment in China from countries along the Belt and Road increased by 29.4 percent.
Concrete achievements have been made in promoting high-quality development in the joint construction of the Belt and Road, which not only ushered in new opportunities for countries along the Belt and Road but opened up new space for China to stabilize foreign trade and investment.
With major changes intertwined with a global pandemic unseen in a century, the world finds itself in a new period of turbulence and transformation, which has hobbled global economic recovery.
Although shifts in the domestic and international economic environment have brought tremendous pressure, the fundamentals of the Chinese economy, characterized by strong resilience, enormous potential, and long-term sustainability, remain unchanged. No matter how the international situation changes, China will always hold high the banner of reform and opening-up.
At the annual Central Economic Work Conference held at the end of last year, Chinese leaders stressed expanding high-level opening-up, stabilizing foreign trade through multiple measures, ensuring smooth industrial and supply chains, and intensifying efforts to attract foreign investment.
China’s total trade volume in goods has ranked first globally for five consecutive years; the country has remained the world’s second-largest recipient of FDI; and it has seen a further elevation in its comprehensive strength, social productivity, and people’s living standards.
Featuring a solid foundation, better conditions, and stronger impetus, the country’s high-quality development effectively sustains the fundamentals of foreign trade and investment.
As the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, the world’s largest free trade agreement, entered into force on Jan. 1, China will further smoothen “dual circulation” driven by higher-level opening-up and make continuous progress along its high-quality development path.