China rolls out plan to boost trade amid weakening global demand

BEIJING (Reuters) -China’s cabinet on Tuesday issued a plan to stabilise its vital trade sector, including supporting exports of automobiles and facilitating visas for overseas businessmen, as subdued global demand threatens its exports outlook.

The move came after Chinese officials repeatedly warned of a severe and complicated situation for foreign trade development as exporters reported lack of orders, putting pressure on policymakers to shore up a sector that is key to economic growth and provides jobs to around 180 million people.

As outbound shipment of electric vehicles spurred an unexpected surge in exports in March, the State Council (cabinet), said, Chinese banks and their overseas branches were encouraged to offer financial support to car firms to help the latter expand on foreign turf.

China will also further smooth the issuing of visas for overseas business people, while increasing inbound and outbound flights, according to the statement.

On exploring markets, the State Council asked Chinese embassies and consulates to step up support for small trade firms and urged major export-oriented provinces to play a key role in stabilising the sector.

“The commerce ministry together with relevant departments should closely follow the operation of foreign trade, analyse the changes of situation” and “adjust and improve relevant policies” in a bid to “help firms stabilise orders and explore markets,” said the statement.

China will also properly respond to unreasonable foreign trade restrictions and strengthen training and guidance to local governments and firms affected, the statement added.

Financial institutions, it said, are encouraged to expand the scale of yuan settlement in cross-border trade transactions to better meet the demand from firms to hedge currency risks.

(Reporting by Ellen Zhang and Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Andrew Heavens, Alex Richardson and Mark Heinrich)