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Nation's services imports to be 10% of world's total

By ZHONG NAN in Shanghai | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-11-07 07:27
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Mascots of the China International Import Expo (CIIE) are seen at the National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai), a main venue for the 3rd CIIE, in Shanghai, Nov 2, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

The value of China's services imports is expected to hit $2.5 trillion in the coming five years, providing a broad and stable market for global industrial and supply chains, government officials said on Friday.

This will account for over 10 percent of the world's total in this field in the next five years, said Chen Chunjiang, director-general of the department of trade in services and commercial services of the Ministry of Commerce.

Outbound travel is projected to exceed $1 trillion during this period. Imports of digital services that include charges for the use of intellectual property, telecommunications, computers, information, financial and insurance services as well as other businesses are expected to exceed $1.3 trillion, Chen said at a news conference during the ongoing third China International Import Expo in Shanghai.

The official's remarks came after President Xi Jinping said at the opening ceremony of the expo that the country will introduce a negative list for cross-border services trade and keep improving its business environment.

Trade in services covers, among other sectors, commerce, communications, transportation of people, construction and related engineering, finance, entertainment, culture and sports, tourism, education and the environment.

Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has brought challenges to economic globalization, a new round of scientific revolution and industrial transformation is springing up. This will push the rise of digital technology, promote in-depth integration of industries and pave the way for the services economy to flourish, Chen said.

China will relax foreign shareholding restrictions on value-added telecommunications services, commercial services and transportation to invigorate the modern services industry, he added.

As China is accelerating the pace in forming a new pattern of development dominated by "dual-circulation", with domestic and international markets complementing each other, Gao Yan, chairwoman of the Beijing-based China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, said that the nation has more space to make further efforts to relax market access for the services industry, expand high-quality services imports and benefit the world while meeting demand at home.

China to date has established trade in services ties with more than 200 countries and regions, and set up collaboration mechanisms for trade in services with 14 countries, including Brazil, Argentina, the United Kingdom, Germany, India, Japan and Singapore, according to the ministry. Services imports from these 14 partners added up to $448.8 billion between 2017 and 2019, with an average annual growth of 8.4 percent, which is notably higher than the average annual growth rate of China's total services imports of 3.5 percent during the same period.

"With China's further opening-up and strong focus on the services trade, we are more confident that the country's growth and development journey will continue," said Keith Griffiths, chairman and global design principal of Aedas, one of the world's largest architectural design companies by sales revenue.

Forest Cao, general manager of the Shanghai branch of Pacific International Lines, a large Singaporean logistics services provider, said he sees significant future development potential in the nation's services trade. Apart from meeting Chinese exporters' demand for ocean shipping, the company plans to add investment in the landside business, including warehouses and freight trains supporting facilities in Qinzhou, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, and in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, over the next five years, Cao said.

To handle the rapid development of technology trade, Chen, from the Ministry of Commerce, said the ministry will work closely with other government departments to speed up the adjustment of the Catalog of Technologies Prohibited or Restricted from Export.

"In addition to retaining the necessary technical items related to national and environmental security, the role of market regulation will be more prominent," he said. "Technical projects that are prohibited or restricted from import will be compressed to create a better environment for the free flow of technologies across borders."

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