Hubei province. Photo: Xinhua

A set of 24 new measures were launched to support the development of the pilot free-trade zone (FTZ) in Hubei province, which was heavily hit by the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year.

The launch of the supportive measures is aimed at stimulating market vitality, fostering new growth momentum and helping businesses resume work, according to a document released by the Ministry of Commerce.

China will build national bases for foreign trade transformation and industry upgrades. It will also carry out pilot programs for retail imports of cross-border e-commerce in the FTZ, according to the document.

Efforts will be made to further facilitate foreign investment, help address challenges for foreign-funded enterprises in the FTZ and encourage multinationals to set up their global or regional headquarters in Hubei.

China vowed to support relevant areas in the FTZ to improve supply chain systems for strategic emerging industries such as next-generation information technologies, high-end equipment manufacturing and new-energy vehicles.

Yuan depreciation

There was limited room for China’s yuan to continue to weaken, as its depreciation was mainly a result of short-lived factors whose impacts are likely to diminish over time, according to a commentary published in the China Securities Journal on Thursday.

The yuan was rendered weaker by a strong dollar, so its devaluation was a passive one, the paper said. It was estimated that the depreciation was unsustainable, as the dollar index was unlikely to increase further in light of the large-scale monetary easing in the United States and the reducing impacts of the pandemic.

China’s quick epidemic response enabled its economy to outperform other economies, and its prudent monetary policy has remained unchanged during these extraordinary times, the paper said.

It dismissed economic performance and policies – the two major forces shaping the general tendency of bilateral exchange rates – as reasons behind the yuan’s depreciation against the greenback.

Since China possesses adequate foreign exchange reserves and has many policy tools available, the possibility was relatively slim that the Renminbi exchange rate would fluctuate in a disorderly manner.

It is normal and reasonable for the renminbi exchange rate to fluctuate within a certain range, which can do more good than harm if such changes occur in a controllable and orderly way, said the paper.

Service exports

China’s service exports grew by 3.5% year-on-year to 161.29 billion yuan (US$22.72 billion) in April, ending a falling streak since the outbreak of Covid-19 in the first quarter.

The growth in service exports was achieved as China’s policies and measures to promote the resumption of work and production and to stabilize foreign trade paid off, said Gao Feng, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce.

For the first four months, China’s service exports dropped 2.2% from the same period last year, while the total service trade went down 13.2 % to 1.51 trillion yuan. Meanwhile, the country’s service trade deficit has narrowed substantially, decreasing 40% year-on-year to 303.36 billion yuan between January and April.

German companies

A charter flight carrying German company executives and their families arrived at Shanghai Pudong International Airport on Thursday. The flight from the European nation carrying more than 200 passengers was organized by the German Chamber of Commerce in China.

It was the first business charter flight carrying foreigners to land in Shanghai in more than two months, indicating the resumption of foreign-related commercial activities in China after the Covid-19 epidemic has eased.

The passengers underwent medical checks before departure and will undergo a 14-day quarantine after arriving in China, according to the chamber.

There are more than 5,200 German companies in China, with over one million employees including German nationals.

Pan Hua, the chief representative of the Hamburg Liaison Office China, told Xinhua that bringing German employees to China on a charter flight can help maintain the stability of global supply chains.

Last week, the first business charter flight organized by the chamber arrived in north China’s port city of Tianjin.

Company news

China Development Bank (CDB) said it will issue 520 billion yuan of local and foreign currency loans in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region in 2020, providing a total of 550 billion yuan of comprehensive financing, increasing financial support for the coordinated development of the region and playing the role of counter-cyclical adjustment of development finance.
 
CDB said it will provide financing services for development projects in Xiong’an, Zhangjiakou and Tianjin Binhai. It will also support the infrastructure development related to the 2022 Winter Olympics.  

Honor, a smartphone brand owned by Huawei Technologies, unveiled its latest 5G smartphone that can scan users’ temperatures via an infrared ray. This can help consumers better keep track of their health amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Play 4 series can take temperatures ranging from minus 20 degrees centigrade to 100 degrees, Honor said. It is part of Honor’s broader efforts to popularize 5G smartphones in China.

The Honor Play 4 Pro uses the Kirin 990 chip, giving it flagship-level performance as well as 5G connectivity. The Pro has only two cameras on its back, but they are quite special. The main shooter is based on a Sony sensor, which Honor says can capture 40% more light than traditional sensors. The second camera has Optical Image Stabilisation features and takes 8 megapixel photos.

The story was written by Xu Jiangshan and Nadeem Xu and first published at ATimesCN.com.

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