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Big prospects ahead for China-UK service trade

By Ma Sihui | | Updated: 2024-05-29 17:21
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The latest trade figures released by the United Kingdom's Department for Business and Trade show that China remains one of the UK's most important trading partners, registering a total two-way trade volume of USD 113 billion in goods and services last year.

Trade in services, in particular, showcases remarkable performance. UK exports in service to China exceeded USD 12.6 billion in 2023, accounting for one-third of the total UK exports to China, and its service imports reached USD 3.8 billion, marking an annual increase of 11.7 percent.

Looking ahead, China-UK trade in services enjoys broad prospects. Service trade is poised to become a new engine for bilateral economic cooperation, bringing more benefits to companies and people in both countries.

China-UK service trade is characterized by strong complementarity and a sound foundation. The UK is the world's second-largest exporter of services and is renowned for its highly developed industries in education, culture and sports.

China has witnessed rapid increase in service trade in recent years, particularly a 24.4 percent surge in service import in 2023. China has become the world's second largest importer of service trade, and the eighth largest market for UK services. Travel, business services, finance, transport and intellectual property are the top five categories of UK service exports to China in 2023.

As China's supersize market is growing with greater maturity, it will inevitably bring about more vigorous and diversified demand and huge growth potential to many countries, including the UK.

China is consistently advancing the opening-up of its service sector, unleashing more policy dividends. Service is one key focus of attention in the government’s efforts to forge a new development pattern and promote high-level opening up. China has pledged to steadily advance cross-border service trade in an orderly manner and expand opening-up in such sectors as finance, telecommunications, tourism, legal services, and professional examinations, providing policy convenience for more UK service providers to enter the Chinese market.

Numerous UK professional institutions in financial, insurance, legal and other fields are increasingly optimistic about the prospects of the Chinese market, and have actively established their presence in China to seize business opportunities.

In the new circumstances, the important role played by service trade in boosting China-UK business ties and economic growth of both countries has become even more prominent, receiving high attention from political and business circles in both countries.

UK Minister of State in the Department for Business and Trade Lord Dominic Johnson attended China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) last year, representing the UK as the guest country of honor. He led a delegation of over 60 British companies and organizations, marking the largest-ever service trade exhibition group since UK’s participation.

Lord Johnson said in an interview with People’s Daily of China that the UK and China have close trade and investment relations and huge space for cooperation in service trade. The UK is delighted to witness substantial progress of service trade in China and anticipates an even more significant role for service trade in the bilateral economic relations.

The author is a researcher on global affairs.

The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

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