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Digital trade set to hit the fast lane

By Ouyang Shijia | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-09-05 16:37
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People visit the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services in Beijing, Sept 5, 2020. [Photo by Zhang Wei/China Daily]

China has seen new growth opportunities in digital fields despite the coronavirus impact, and the country will continue accelerating the push for advancing the development of digital trade, said a senior official from the Ministry of Commerce.

In the battle against the COVID-19 outbreak, remote working, e-government services, digital education, online entertainment and other digital sectors have played a key role in safeguarding people's living and production, preventing and controlling the epidemic, and strengthening global economic and trade cooperation, said Wang Bingnan, vice-minister of commerce.

"It has further demonstrated the huge vitality in (digital economic) development," Wang said at the Forum of Trends and Latest Developments of Digital Trade under the ongoing China International Fair for Trade in Services held in Beijing. "Digital trade will surely become a key to deepen opening-up on a larger scale, in a broader field, and at a deeper level in the future."

Buoyed by the government's supportive policies, China's digital trade is growing rapidly. In 2019, the volume of China's import and export digital trade surged 6.7 percent to $203.6 billion, accounting for 26 percent of the country's total import and export service trade volume, according to Wang.

With the rapid development of digital economy, internet-based digital trade thrive in the globe, which helps accelerate the restructuring and optimization of global innovation, industrial and value chains. The World Trade Organization predicted that technological change will reduce costs further and as a result, global trade could increase yearly by 1.8 to 2 percentage points until 2030. 

Wang believed that digital trade will help promote the sharing of knowledge and technology factors, advance digital transformation, boost innovation and develop new business forms and models in trade.

"We're more inclined to think that digital trade is a new form of trade that uses digital technology for research and development, design and production, and delivers products and services to users through the internet and modern information technology," Wang said.

"Specifically, digital trade includes information technology services, digital content services and other types of offshore service outsourcing through digital interaction, including software, social media, search engine, communications, cloud computing, satellite positioning, digital entertainment and digital media."

In the next step, the Ministry of Commerce will set up a clear development orientation of China's digital trade, carry out digitalization works initiatives, create a development and governance environment conducive to digitalization, and promptly form a digital trade China plan.

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