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B&R economies to boost services trade partnership

By Zheng Yiran | China Daily | Updated: 2020-09-08 08:42
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Photo taken on Sept 5, 2020 shows exhibits in the tourism services exhibition area of the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) in Beijing. [Photo/Xinhua]

Joint efforts by member economies of the Belt and Road Initiative will foster greater cooperation in services trade and generate win-win outcomes for the sector, industry experts said on Monday.

Zhou Chenghu, head of the China Association of Trade in Services and an academician with the Chinese Academy of Science, said during a forum at the ongoing China International Fair for Trade in Services in Beijing, that the services sector accounts for 60 percent of the global economy and there are broad prospects for cooperation in the sector among countries and regions related to the BRI. The cooperation should focus on construction of public platforms, information and resource-sharing for the overall development of the services industry, he said.

The CIFTIS, which marks the country's first major international trade event being held offline since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, will end on Wednesday.

Data from the Ministry of Commerce showed that during the first seven months of this year, China's nonfinancial outbound direct investment dropped by 2.1 percent on a yearly basis to 423.7 billion yuan ($62 billion). However, the country's nonfinancial outbound direct investment into the BRI-related economies reached $10.3 billion, up 28.9 percent on a yearly basis. The investment accounted for 17 percent of the total, up 4.5 percentage points on a yearly basis.

China had inked strategic partnership agreements with Central and Eastern European countries and with other member nations of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), establishing service trade bilateral cooperation mechanism with 14 countries and regions.

During the last CIFTIS, among the 131 countries that had signed the BRI agreement with China, 98 attended the fair. Meanwhile, at a promotional meeting for Belt and Road service trade cooperation, enterprises and institutions from more than 10 countries and regions related to the initiative attended, and the total signed projects, in areas including technology, environment and finance, were worth over $2 billion, according to the ministry.

Zhou said that countries and regions related to the BRI should comply with the development trends in digitization and networking, accelerate multilateral cooperation in the digital field and promote the digital development of services trade.

In addition, new business modes should be explored, and the intellectual property protection of the services trade should be enhanced, so that new vigor and vitality in the industry is spurred, he said.

Zhang Shenfeng, deputy head of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, said: "Services trade, as an integral part of international trade, plays an important role in transforming the mode of economic growth and promoting industrial transformation and upgrade.

"Currently, China is shifting its focus of opening-up from trade in goods to trade in services. During the first seven months of this year, China's trade in services stabilized, trade deficit decreased and knowledge-intensive industries grew despite the challenges brought by COVID-19.Services trade has become a new bright spot in the development of international trade," he said.

To promote the development of the country's service trade industry, Zhang said that a shared service trade platform should be established to enhance multilateral cooperation.

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