BEIJING, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- China remains a magnet for foreign investment as its doors open wider and business environment continues to improve, Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said in an interview with Xinhua.
Despite the fallout from the coronavirus epidemic and rising protectionist sentiment, foreign companies expanded their investment in the world's second-largest economy during the first half of the year.
The number of projects with investment above 100 million U.S. dollars hit 320 during the period, showing that the country still holds great appeal to foreign investors.
"I don't think smart foreign investors will give up on the Chinese market," said Zhong, citing the country's huge market, better business environment and complete industrial chain.
The minister pledges greater efforts to expand opening-up during the second half, and encourages more foreign investment in the central and western regions as well as the old industrial base in the northeast.
China will also continue to improve the business environment and protect intellectual property rights, he added.
STABILIZE FOREIGN TRADE
China's foreign trade companies will be faced with greater challenges during the second half, due to waning external demand and rising anti-globalization sentiment.
The ministry will step up its policy support for foreign trade firms, and introduce more measures such as export tax rebates, foreign trade credits and export credit insurance to help them overcome difficulties, Zhong said.
In addition to consolidating traditional markets, he stressed exploring emerging markets and deepening cooperation with countries along the Belt and Road in a bid to stabilize foreign trade.
The ministry will support companies building overseas marketing networks and warehouses, and encourage the development of new forms of business such as cross-border e-commerce, Zhong said.
Meanwhile, the country will expand imports to meet burgeoning domestic demand and lift global markets' confidence, he said.
BOOST DOMESTIC CONSUMPTION
As the country's economic recovery gathers momentum amid the further containment of COVID-19, China's consumption market has warmed up in recent months.
Retail sales of consumer goods, a major indicator of consumption growth, fell 3.9 percent in the second quarter, narrowing 15.1 percentage points from the decline registered in the first quarter.
To further boost domestic consumption, more efforts should be made to upgrade the consumption of urban residents, expand the coverage of e-commerce in rural areas and develop service consumption such as catering and housekeeping, according to Zhong.