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China Focus: Multinational enterprise bullish on opening-up of China's service trade

September 02, 2021


Abstract : Global accounting and consulting firm EY has expressed high hopes on the upcoming China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) as China's opening-up in the service sector is bringing huge opportunities to investors at home and abroad.

BEIJING, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) -- Global accounting and consulting firm EY has expressed high hopes on the upcoming China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) as China's opening-up in the service sector is bringing huge opportunities to investors at home and abroad.

"As the country's top exhibition in service trade, the CIFTIS embodies China's commitment to high-level opening-up and has become an important platform for leading the latest trends in the global service industry and promoting the development of global service trade," Xie Jiayang, a managing partner of EY Greater China, told Xinhua in an interview.

China has taken a raft of measures to deepen opening-up of its service sector, such as shortening the negative list for foreign investment for four consecutive years, introducing a negative list for cross-border trade in services at the Hainan free trade port and making opening-up commitments in 22 more service fields by signing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement.

"Faced with the great challenges of COVID-19, China has made steady progress in opening-up, especially in institutional opening-up," said Xie.

She hailed the release of the negative list for cross-border trade in services in Hainan, the first for the services, which came into effect on Aug. 26.

"China's attempt to implement the list, which results in greater openness for a wide range of subsectors including culture, finance, transportation, telecommunications and education, reflects a major breakthrough of the country's administration on service trade," Xie said.

She believed the efforts of complying with high-standard international economic and trade rules and enhancing opening-up will attract many multinational enterprises to invest in Hainan and promote the development of foreign-funded service organizations at the port.

The country launched the China (Beijing) Pilot Free Trade Zone in September 2020 to promote technological innovation and the development of digital, health care, cultural and financial services. It has also added four pilot zones for deepening opening-up in service trade in Tianjin, Shanghai, Chongqing and Hainan.

"In recent years, China has actively taken measures to remove barriers in personnel and data flow as well as business setup and operation," said Xie.

She spoke highly of examples including Hainan's attempt of relaxing registration and setup requirements for professional service institutions and Beijing's pilot of international trips of Chinese tourists organized by foreign travel agencies.

Eying the opportunities in China's service trade sector, the company has signed up for the fair's offline activities for the first time this year and will showcase achievements in the fields of big data, blockchain, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and robotics in the special section for digital services of the fair, which has been set up for the first time.

More than 10,000 enterprises from 153 countries and regions have signed up for this year's CIFTIS. Among them, 2,400 firms will showcase their products and services offline.

Up to 18 percent of offline exhibitors are Fortune 500 companies and leading enterprises, up 9 percentage points from last year, according to the organizers.

Considering the large proportion of the service sector in the Chinese economy, Xie believed the high-quality development of the sector, especially production and modern services, is very significant in speeding up the establishment of China's modern industrial system.

In the first half of this year, the added value of the service sector reached 29.6 trillion yuan (about 4.58 trillion U.S. dollars), accounting for 55.7 percent of China's GDP, official data showed.

EY is particularly looking to the potential of knowledge-intensive and digital services in China.

Data from the Ministry of Commerce showed China's trade of knowledge-intensive services increased by 13.5 percent year on year to nearly 1.11 trillion yuan in the first half of 2021.

Xie said China is "at the forefront of the world" in developing digital economy, noting that the country is "leading the world in terms of the number of 5G base stations, optical fiber network coverage and data traffic for mobile Internet access."

While being optimistic about the prospect of China's service sector, Xie suggested accelerating the integration of the sector with industries including advanced manufacturing and modern agriculture to better serve the real economy.

"In this way, the development of the sector will boost long-term steady growth of the world economy," she said. Enditem

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