China's first negative list for cross-border trade in services took effect in Hainan Free Trade Port on Thursday. It represents a major breakthrough in the country's opening-up for trade in services and one of the latest preferential policies boosting development of the Hainan FTP, officials and experts said.
The negative list, released by the Ministry of Commerce last month, specifies 70 special management measures for overseas service providers in 11 categories, including shipping, retail, logistics, finance and education. Foreign and domestic service providers in the FTP will have a level playing field and enjoy equal market access in areas that are not included in the list.
Trade in services refers to the sale and delivery of intangible things, such as transportation, tourism, telecommunications, construction, advertising, computing and accounting.
The negative list is important in China's high-level institutional opening-up, as it will boost high-quality development of Hainan FTP as well as the national economy.
The liberalization goes beyond China's commitments in its WTO accession and its main effective free trade agreements in corresponding areas, said Wang Shouwen, vice-minister of commerce.
Implementation of the negative list, together with other preferential policies, will give a new advantage to the Hainan FTP service trade and add new appeal for Hainan as an investment destination, said Bai Ming, deputy director of the ministry's international market research department under the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.
Hainan has drafted regulations to ensure that the new policy will be effectively implemented and that risks are properly prevented, officials of the Hainan provincial commerce authority said.
Plans to adjust current laws and regulations to better promote the negative list are now in the approval process, officials said.
The knowledge-and technology-intensive service trade is growing rapidly in Hainan. The modern services sector contributed to 95.8 percent of Hainan's economic growth last year, and the import and export of services trade saw an increase of 81.23 percent year-on-year in the first half of this year, according to the commerce department.