Robots in a Cainiao logistic center. Photo:

China will set up more integrated pilot zones for cross-border e-commerce, support the processing trade with new steps and hold the China Import and Export Fair (Canton Fair) online to stabilize foreign trade and investment after the Covid-19 outbreak.

After holding an executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday, the State Council said it had decided to set up another 46 integrated pilot zones for cross-border e-commerce on top of the 59 existing ones.

Companies in these zones will enjoy such support policies as exemption of value-added and consumption taxes on retail exports, and an assessed levy of the corporate income tax. They will also be supported in the joint building and sharing of overseas warehouses.

The State Council also urged firms to boost the processing trade, which accounted for one-fourth of China’s foreign trade. It stressed the need to coordinate domestic and foreign trade and help companies engaged in the processing trade tackle their difficulties, as well as to stabilize foreign investment and employment.

The category of industries where foreign investment is encouraged will be expanded, and the list of prohibited goods in the processing trade will be shortened.

Given the serious outbreak situation globally, the 127th Canton Fair will be hosted online in mid- to late June, said the State Council.

Forex reserves

China’s foreign exchange reserves fell for the second consecutive month in March to US$3.06 trillion, as the value of reserves in other currencies fell due to the global financial market turmoil and decline in oil prices amid the virus outbreak. At the end of last month, China’s forex reserves have fallen by 1.5%, or US$47.3 billion, from the beginning of 2020.

Wang Chunying, a spokesperson for the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, said the depreciation of other currencies against the stronger US dollar had led to remarkable adjustments of asset prices and influenced foreign exchange rates.

Wang said China’s foreign exchange market remained stable, with a generally balanced demand and supply of foreign exchange. She added that the country’s real economy is recovering steadily and can support the long-term stability of foreign exchange reserves.

Lockdown in Wuhan

From Wednesday, Wuhan in Hebei province started lifting its outbound travel restrictions after a 76-day lockdown to stem the spread of Covid-19.

As more enterprises resume their operations, Wuhan has seen an increase of nearly 400,000 vehicles in domestic transit in the past half month, and the number is expected to reach 1.8 million after Wednesday. More than 55,000 passengers are expected to leave Wuhan by train on Wednesday, and about 40% of them are going to the Pearl River Delta Region.

A total of 276 passenger trains will leave Wuhan for Shanghai, Shenzhen and other cities. Wuhan Tianhe International Airport will see more than 200 inbound and outbound flights on Wednesday.

On January 23, Wuhan declared unprecedented traffic restrictions, including suspending the city’s public transport and all outbound flights and trains, in an attempt to contain the epidemic.

Company news

Huatai Securities started its plan to buy back shares worth 2.62 billion yuan ($374 million) from the markets on Tuesday. It bought back 531,200 A-share shares, or an 0.006% stake, for 9.32 million yuan in its first round of purchase. The company said it will use all the buy-back shares in its employee incentive scheme.

In August 2019, the China Securities Regulatory Commission in a statement encouraged securities firms to launch incentive schemes for their employees. Since then, China Merchants Securities, CITIC Securities and several other brokerages launched employee incentive schemes.

Geely Automobile, a Hong Kong-listed automobile maker, said its total sales volume declined 41% to 73,021 units in March from the same period last year. However, the sales volume in March still increased 245% from about 21,200 in February.

Last month, the company shipped 3,152 vehicles overseas, down 60% from a year ago. Total sales volume fell 44% to 206,027 units in the first quarter from a year ago. The company has so far achieved 15% of its full-year sales target of 1.41 million units for 2020.

The story was written by Huang Wanyi and Xu Jiangshan and first published at It was translated into English by Nadeem Xu.