By Du Haitao, People’s Daily

The recently hosted central economic work conference stressed that it will be imperative to foster
new drivers of foreign trade, reinforce the stable performance in foreign trade and foreign
investment, and expand trade in intermediate goods, trade in services, digital trade and exports of
cross-border e-commerce.
In 2023, China’s foreign trade sector has withstood external pressures and continued to
demonstrate its resilience.
Recently, the first batch of 50 new energy buses made by Chinese bus manufacturer Higer Bus
were shipped from the Taicang port in east China’s Jiangsu province, heading to Brazil.
With the support from the local customs, hawthorns grown in Laiwu, east China’s Shandong
province were exported to Thailand for the first time.
Last year, China faced a complex and challenging external environment, as well as multiple
difficulties at home. Precise policy implementation, proactive efforts from businesses, and active
market exploration have promoted stability and improved quality in China’s imports and exports
of goods amid uncertainties.
Since October 2023, China’s foreign trade has shown year-on-year growth for two consecutive
months. In November, the total imports and exports increased by 1.2 percent compared to the
same period in 2022, 0.3 percentage points higher than that in October. These figures fully
reflected the good momentum for steady and improving growth of China’s foreign trade.
Foreign trade is one of the important driving forces of economic growth. Promoting the sector to
stabilize the scale and optimize the structure has a crucial supportive role in maintaining stable
growth and employment, building a new development pattern, and advancing high-quality
Currently, the number of foreign trade enterprises in China with import and export records has
increased to 597,000, and the import and export value of enterprises that have stayed active since
2020 accounts for nearly 80 percent of of the whole.
In the first 11 months of 2023, the imports and exports of general trade, which features longer
industrial chains and relatively higher added value, accounted for 64.8 percent of China’s total
foreign trade, growing 1 percentage point year-on-year. This further reinforced the high-quality
development of foreign trade.
In the first three quarters of 2023, the combined exports of new energy vehicles, lithium batteries,
and photovoltaic products rose 41.7 percent year-on-year, with their share in China’s total exports
up by 1.3 percentage points from a year ago.
The world has entered a new period of turbulence and change. The momentum of world
economic growth is sluggish. Destabilizing, uncertain and unpredictable factors are increasing.
Faced with a complex external environment, various regions and departments in China have
enhanced the internal driving force with reform and opening up. They coordinated efforts to
promote deepened reform and high-level opening up, continuously liberated and developed social
productive forces, stimulated and enhanced social vitality, and accelerated the cultivation of new
drivers of foreign trade, thus promoting the sustained improvement of foreign trade.
From the perspective of development trend, China’s foreign trade in 2023 continued to consolidate

the foundation of “stability” and kept the momentum of “progress,” expanding the space for
economic and trade cooperation.
China’s exports of goods have been moving up the value chain. The share of electromechanical
product exports in the total has expanded, and the exports of green, low-carbon and smart products
have grown rapidly.
While fostering new drivers of foreign trade growth, China has not only focused on leveraging the
new advantages of traditional products, but also continuously expanded new areas of growth such
as new energy vehicles, lithium batteries and photovoltaic products, so as to further utilize its
advantages in new arenas.
China has employed digital technologies to improve the efficiency in all links of foreign trade,
facilitate the foreign trade sector and unleash the vitality of foreign trade entities. At the same
time, it has actively expanded trade in intermediate goods and expedited the growth of service
With the continued strength of domestic policies to stabilize foreign trade and the steady progress
of foreign trade reform measures, China’s foreign trade will maintain stable growth, with
continuous optimization of trade structure and strengthening of internal growth drivers.
Various regions and departments across China will prioritize efforts to accelerate the optimization
and upgrading of the foreign trade structure. They will focus on cultivating new drivers of foreign
trade growth that are technologically advanced, high value-added, green and low-carbon, to
further promote high-quality development of the country’s foreign trade sector.


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