China to set up information offices, lobby groups to reduce trade disputes

China to set up information offices, lobby groups to reduce trade disputes

China will set up 100 trade information offices this year to collate trade-related data from its major export provinces and assess them for potential risks, government officials said on Wednesday.

In addition, the country will also set up lobby groups in the United States, Brazil and India this year to tackle growing global trade frictions against its products.

Yin Zonghua, vice-chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, said as many as 94 trade disputes were filed against Chinese companies and products in 2015, mainly by the United States and emerging economies like Brazil, India and Mexico.

Most of the disputed related to China's steel, auto parts, fastener, household electrical appliances, agricultural products, garment and shoe-making industries. They came amid an overall slowdown in the number and value of trade friction cases.

China's overall exports amounted to 14.14 trillion yuan (S$3.09 trillion) in 2015, down 1.8 per cent on a year-on-year basis, the first drop since 2010, according to data from the General Administration of Customs.

CCPIT has so far established 52 trade information offices and passed on nearly 2,600 trade-related early warnings to 32,000 companies. The information dissemination was to help the companies enhance their risk prevention levels and be better prepared for changes in the global trade system.

To catch up with its more mature trade partners, CCPIT established China's first overseas civil lobby group in Brussels to help Chinese companies' global expansion in the European Union last year.

Shen Danyang, spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, said even though China is a leading goods trader, it still has a long way to go before it can change from being a large goods trader to a strong goods trader.

"Chinese manufacturers from both the State-owned and private sectors are not only confronting cumbersome issues such as the appreciation of the yuan and rising financing costs, but also fierce competition with emerging countries in the low-end product market," said Shen.

Yin Jiang'an, general manager of Dongguan Jinmaoda Furniture Co, a leading furniture maker from Dongguan in Guangdong province, said the frequent changes in European technical standards are hampering Chinese furniture product exports to the EU market.

The EU standards stipulate that foreign furniture sold in the EU must meet their criteria on environmental, ecological and formaldehyde emission standards. Many Chinese furniture makers believe these standards are complicated and costly to achieve.

"It costs a lot of money to fulfil the ecological details adopted by the EU Commission in 2009. It is also the reason why many furniture factories in Dongguan's Dalingshan area are now developing a broad-based domestic strategy," said Yin.

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