CHONGQING, March 16 (Xinhua) -- Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, an inland city on the fast track of China's new round of opening-up, has seen green shoots of recovery in its foreign trade, as the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has been basically contained in the country.
All of the 840 major foreign trade firms in Chongqing, which neighbors Hubei Province, the hardest-hit region by the coronavirus, have resumed operations as of March 12.
The city will continue to promote the coordinated resumption of work at upstream and downstream companies in the industrial, supply and sales chains, Peng Heliang, deputy director of the municipal commission of commerce told a press conference Friday.
Though Chongqing registered an 18.3 percent year-on-year decrease in foreign trade volume due to the COVID-19 in the first two months of the year, it has seen a gradual recovery of foreign trade thanks to the resilience of its development coupled with supportive policies.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19, Chongqing has issued a number of preferential policies to stabilize foreign trade and foreign investment, facilitating companies to resume work and production, Peng said.
According to the official, local authorities have further simplified the process in areas including trade management, customs clearance, logistics and transportation and foreign exchange settlement.
Chongqing Customs has rolled out 11 measures including fast customs clearance and tax payment, said Li Yu, deputy director of Chongqing Customs.
"We have appropriately extended the time limits for enterprises to pay taxes and the starting time for delayed declaration fees, to help foreign trade firms tide over the difficulties," said Li.
With the implementation of the supporting measures, Chongqing's foreign trade will maintain a positive trend in the long term, Li added.
According to Li, the import and export activities of enterprises in the city have resumed rapidly, with the number of customs declarations returning to 80 percent of last year's average in early March.
During the virus outbreak, the operation of China-Europe freight trains and land-sea freight services have revved up Chongqing's imports through railway transportation by 3.1 times.
The land-sea route is part of the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, a trade and logistics passage jointly built by western Chinese provincial regions and Singapore under the framework of the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity.
Chongqing is a center of operation for the corridor, with goods from western Chinese provinces and regions shipped to the Beibu Gulf in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region before they are transferred to other parts of the world along sea routes.
"Local authorities have introduced measures including extending the free demurrage period of containers to reduce companies' logistics costs and ensure the smooth running of the land-sea route," said Wang Yupei, head of the route's operation platform.
"In the short term, the impact (of the COVID-19) on global economy and supply chains is inevitable, and the international economic and trade growth will be pressured, which will affect the business resumption of China's foreign trade firms and their ability to secure new orders," Li Xingqian, director of foreign trade department under the Ministry of Commerce, told an online news briefing Thursday.
China will work to intensify global cooperation to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, and minimize its impact on both China's foreign trade and the global trade growth, Li said.