Chen Guoqing: “Upgrading the consumption of China’s middle class with 400 million people means a huge demand for higher quality products and for imports”

Chen Guoqing, President of the China Stone Material Association (CSMA). Photo: CSMA

Interview with the President of the Chinese Stone Association about the future orientation of the country’s economy and the impacts of Covid-19

At the end of October 2020, the Central Committee of the Chinese communist party had a plenary session to decide about setting the course for the coming five-years-plan. Western media reported that the country would seal off its economy from imports. Peter Becker from spoke about this with Chen Guoqing, President of the China Stone Material Association (CSMA). At the end of the interview, two questions about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Chinese economy. After the plenary meeting of the communist party, Western media reported that China would reduce imports and focus on a “Buy Chinese”. Is that true?

Chen Guoqing: “Open wider to the outside world” continues to be China’s fundamental state policy. President Xi Jinping said at the Import Fair in Shanghai “The door of China’s opening up will not be closed, it will only open wider and wider!” The Chinese middle class, with 400 million people, stands for a vast demand for products and services with higher quality. Consumption upgrading brings strong demand for imported goods. What does this mean for the Chinese stone sector?

Chen Guoqing: Our association and major Chinese stone enterprises believe that encouraging the imports of slabs and finished products will promote the transformation and upgrading of China’s stone industry. We have proposed further to reduce import tariffs of slabs and finished products. Which were the data of the Chinese stone imports and exports in the first three quarters of 2020?

Chen Guoqing: In the first three quarters of 2020, China’s stone imports were 8.97 million tons, a decline of 15.2% compared with the same period of the previous year, in value US-$ 1.67billion (-17.4%). Among the total, there are 8.38 million tons of blocks (-17.8%), in value of US-$ 1.60 billion (-17.6%), and the semi and final processed products with 81,000 tons (+0.91%) in quantity and US-$ 50.4 million in value (+3.0%). The total exports of natural stone in the first three quarters were 5.9 million tons (-15.2%) in quantity and US-$ 4.13 billion in value (+13.6%). The exports of engineered stones were 567 thousand tons (+13.5%) in quantity and US-$ 516.8million in value (+11.8%). How is the Chinese economy in general – did it already come back to normal?

Chen Guoqing: China’s economy sees a steady recovery, and the economic growth has turned from negative to positive. In the first three quarters of 2020, China’s GDP increased by +0.7%. The increasing rates in the first, second, and third quarter were -6.8%, +3.2%, +4.9% respectively. China’s exports in value in total were RMB 12,7 trillion, increased by 1.8% compared with the same period of the previous year. Imports were RMB 10,4 trillion, a slight decline of 0.6%.
(RMB 12,7 trillion ~ US-$ 2 trillion)

China Stone Material Association (CSMA) (Chinese)

The final Communique of 5th plenary session of 19th CPC Central Committee

Keynote Speech of President of State Xi Jinping at the 3rd China International Import Expo fair in Shanghai (CIIE), November 05 – 10, 2020

The value of imports and exports from January to September 2020, the unit is in US-$ 100 million. Imports in red, exports in blue. Source: CSMAChina’s Imports by continent. Source: CSMATop stone exporters to China, January-September, 2020. Source: CSMAChina’s Imports from European countries. Source: CSMAChina’s Imports from top 4 European countries. Source: CSMA

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