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China Opening Services Sector

by S. Jack Heffernan Ph.D

Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed the Global Trade in Services Summit of the 2023 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) via video on Saturday morning, taking the world’s second-largest economy a step further in opening up its services sector and strengthening cooperation to propel global economic recovery.

“The world today is confronted with accelerated changes unseen in a century and sluggish economic recovery,” Xi said in his speech.

Xi emphasized the significance of trade in services as a pivotal component of international trade, underscoring the services sector’s vital role in economic and trade collaboration between nations.

He highlighted that the deepening global cooperation in trade in services and the services sector, the accelerated process of digital-driven, smart and green growth, and burgeoning new technologies as well as new business forms and models would give a strong impetus to advancing economic globalization, reviving global growth and enhancing the resilience of world economic development.

Noting that this year marks the 45th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up, Xi reaffirmed the country’s commitment to promoting high-standard opening up and advancing Chinese modernization on all fronts through high-quality development, thereby providing all countries with new opportunities for openness and cooperation.

“In developing the services sector and trade in services, China will work with all countries and parties to advance inclusive development through openness, promote connectivity and integration through cooperation, foster drivers for development through innovation, and create a better future through shared services, in a bid to jointly get the world economy onto the track of sustained recovery,” Xi said.

Xi has outlined a series of measures to create a “more open and more inclusive” development environment, which include the expansion of a globally-oriented network of high-standard free trade areas, negotiations on the negative list for trade in services and investment, and broader opening up in services areas such as telecommunications, tourism, law and vocational examinations.

“Our national integrated demonstration zone for greater openness in the services sector as well as eligible pilot free trade zones and free trade port will be the first to align their policies with high-standard international economic and trade rules,” Xi said, adding that the country will widen access to its services sector, advance the opening up in cross-border services trade in an orderly manner, improve the level of standardization of services trade, and steadily expand institutional opening up.

In terms of cooperation, Xi said China will strengthen the bond of mutual benefit and win-win cooperation by enhancing synergy with development strategies and cooperation initiatives of various countries, deepening cooperation on services trade and digital trade with Belt and Road partner countries, facilitating the cross-border flow of resources and production factors and fostering more growth areas for economic cooperation.

China will also strengthen innovation-driven development, with plans to accelerate the cultivation of new drivers for the digitalization of services trade, implement pilot reforms on basic data systems, and promote the development of digital trade through reform and innovation, according to Xi.

Xi also announced that the country will establish a national voluntary greenhouse gas emission reduction trading market and pledged support for the services sector’s role in green development.

China will push forward the integrated development of services trade with modern services industries, high-end manufacturing and modern agriculture to unleash more vitality for innovation, Xi noted.

Xi emphasized that the country will share the outcomes of the Chinese modernization drive with the rest of the world by vigorously boosting domestic demand, accelerating the building of a robust domestic market, taking the initiative to increase the imports of quality services, and encouraging more exports of knowledge-intensive services.

“We will lend new impetus to global development with the opportunities generated by China’s vast market, and offer more and better Chinese services to the world through high-quality development in a bid to increase the sense of gains of people around the world,” Xi said.

At the end of his speech, Xi underlined the importance of openness in the world economy and the risks of seclusion. He called on all parties to uphold the hard-won free trade and multilateral trading regime, share in the historic opportunities in the development of global trade in services, and unite for an even brighter and more prosperous future for the world.

The 2023 CIFTIS is being held in Beijing from Saturday to Wednesday with the theme of “Opening up leads development, cooperation delivers the future.”

Shayne Heffernan

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