The Central Economic Work Conference after the 19th Party Congress

On January 4, 2018, the 5th DaoHe Forum was held in Beijing. Senior executives from multinational companies and foreign trade associations gathered together to exchange views on China’s 2017 Central Economic Work Conference (CEWC). Two leading policy experts, Mr. Xu Xiaoqing, former Director General of the Department of the Rural Economic Research at the Development Research Center (DRC) of the State Council, and Mr. Zhang Liqun, researcher of the Department of the Macro-Economic Research at DRC shared their insights on the 2017 CEWC and the 2017 Central Rural Work Conference (CRWC). About 50 senior executives from multinational companies, trade associations and CBD Administration Committee attended the Forum.

Mr. Zhang first shared his observations on China’s leadership’s top-level thinking and overall strategic deployment of the country’s economic work in 2018 and the next three years. He then provided in-depth analysis of the key tasks and highlights of the 2017 CEWC. Based on that, Mr. Xu went further in-depth with agriculture as an example on how the central government’s macro economic policy would get implemented in industries.

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The year of 2018 is the first year after the 19th Party Congress and it marks the 40th anniversary of Reform and Opening Up. It is also a critical year for China to achieve the goal of completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in an all aspects by 2020. Against this background, Mr. Zhang focused on two key words of the 2017 CEWC – “high-quality development” and “the three must-win battles” (i.e. risk prevention, poverty alleviation and pollution control). MNCs, Mr. Zhang indicated, would face stronger competition from Chinese enterprises as China transforms to a high-quality development. On the other hand, China’s pursuit of high-quality development would also provide MNCs with opportunities to continue their advantage in leading industry development.

Mr. Xu shared his insights on the 2017 CRWC. He focused on “rural vitalization strategy”, one of the new national strategies proposed by China’s top leadership at the 19th Party Congress. Mr. Xu provided a full background on how this new national strategy and related polices were developed and how they would get implemented step by step. One key point that he made was that rural vitalization would not just be about development of rural area or agriculture. Rather, the strategy is critical to China’s next phase of development in all industries. He also expounded on the potential opportunities for MNCs as China implements the rural vitalization strategy.

In the Q&A session, the two speakers shared their views on a broad range of issues and questions concerning MNCs’ operation and development in China, including state-owned enterprise reform, foreign investment administration, MNC operating environment, MNC’s “sense of gaining”, impact of recent environmental protection measures on MNCs’ operations, opening up of seed industry, the pricing reform of agricultural products, etc.