China will soon release a plan to grow trade in services during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25), said government officials on Friday.
The five-year plan will help facilitate dual-circulation development paradigm and cultivate new competitive advantages in the coming years, they said.
With focus on promoting high-quality development and supply-side structural reforms, the plan will seek to accelerate the country's reform and opening-up and the digitalization process, optimize industry structure and regional layout, support market players and enrich cross-border cooperation, said Wang Bingnan, vice-minister of commerce.
Addressing a news conference in Beijing, Wang said the plan will conform to the increasingly digital nature of trade in services, and for the first time will include digital trade, which will likely emerge as the path toward the future.
In contrast to merchandise trade, trade in services refers to the sale and delivery of intangible services like transportation, tourism, telecommunications, construction, advertising, computing and accounting.
"With the accelerating process of manufacturing services, digitalization of services and outsourcing, the digital characteristics of trade in services have become increasingly obvious," said Wang.
"Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, services such as telemedicine, shared commercial platforms and office spaces have grown widely, generating many new business forms and models."
The added value of China's services sector reached 29.6 trillion yuan ($4.56 trillion) in the first half of this year, and its share of GDP increased from 54.5 percent last year to 55.7 percent so far this year, providing strong industrial support for the high-quality development of trade in services, data from the Ministry of Commerce showed.
Chen Chunjiang, director-general of the ministry's department of trade in services and commercial services, noted that China has removed certain items on the negative list for foreign investment access for four consecutive years.
Last month, the country also unveiled its first negative list for cross-border trade in services for Hainan Free Trade Port, a major measure toward creating an administrative model for trade in services. So, trade in services will be a key driving force to attract foreign direct investment, Chen said.
Powered by trade in knowledge-intensive services, China's overall trade in services rose 6.7 percent year-on-year to 2.38 trillion yuan in the first half of 2021, according to the ministry data.
As the country will hold the 2021 China International Fair for Trade in Services－CIFTIS－both offline and online from Sept 2 to 7, the grand event will not only gather both domestic and global companies to showcase their latest business solutions and related products, but also promote innovation on the supply side and consumption on the demand side, Chen said.
To be co-organized by the Ministry of Commerce and the Beijing municipal government, CIFTIS has already received registrations from more than 10,000 companies from 153 countries and regions for its online and offline exhibitions. The previous edition of the event had participants from 148 countries and regions. This year's fair will have an exhibition area of 130,000 square meters and host more than 100 forums, meetings and promotional events.
The internationalization rate and the proportion of the Fortune Global 500 companies among the participants have all exceeded the previous levels, attracting more overseas businesses and institutions to hold exhibitions online or offline, said Yang Jinbai, Beijing's vice-mayor.
Jens Eskelund, managing director for China of Maersk Group, one of the world's largest shipping and logistics service providers by sale revenue, said since the restructuring of the global value chain is accelerating, there is more room for China to improve on efficiency and develop logistics infrastructure in many inland provinces to support the growth of trade in services.