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China policy round-up: phase one trade deal coming, Safe deputy chief heads to Guangdong, State Council urges more support for SMEs

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By Rebecca Feng
10 Jan 2020

In this round-up, Chinese vice premier Liu He will visit Washington DC next Monday until Wednesday, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange sends its deputy administrator to Guangdong and the Financial Stability and Development Committee reaffirmed the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises.

Liu will visit Washington DC from January 13 to January 15 to sign the phase one trade deal with the US, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said in a Thursday press conference.

“The teams on both sides are in close contact regarding the arrangements of the deal signing event,” Gao Feng, a spokesperson at the ministry, told reporters. “Regarding the phase two deal negotiation, I do not have any more information to disclose at the moment.”

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Zhang Xin, a former deputy administrator of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (Safe), has taken up the position of vice-governor of Guangdong province, according to a report by state media the Economics Times on Thursday.

Zhang had previous stints at Merrill Lynch in New York and the World Bank. He returned to mainland China at the end of 2000. He took up a position at the China Securities Regulatory Commission before being assigned to the People’s Bank of China in 2004 and later to Safe in 2017.

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The Financial Stability and Development Committee (FSDC) under the State Council held its 14th meeting on Tuesday, chaired by Liu.

The committee discussed ways to extend more support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), according to the readout published on Tuesday. However, the notice did not give much detail on how exactly the policymakers are planning to achieve that goal.

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China did not lift its wheat, corn and rice imports quota even after promising the US to boost the import of agricultural products under the phase one deal, local media Caixin reported, citing Han Jun, vice minister of agriculture and rural affairs.

The phase one deal was agreed upon in December. At the time, the White House issued a statement saying that China has agreed to make “substantial purchases of American manufacturing goods, agricultural products, energy products, and services”. At the time, analysts expected China to import $50bn farm goods from the US annually.

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Chinese premier Li Keqiang urged state-owned enterprises and government departments to clear payments owed to private firms and SMEs in a Wednesday state council meeting.

Li asked that “resolute efforts be made to see the work through,” according to the official government statement.

By the end of 2019, 75% of the Rmb890bn ($128bn) of payments owed to SMEs had been made, exceeding the original target of half of it being paid back by year-end.  

By Rebecca Feng
10 Jan 2020