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Opening-up to rank high during fair

China Daily | August 22, 2023


China will expedite progress in crafting both national and pilot free trade zone versions of the negative list governing cross-border trade in services, amid efforts to further advance its opening-up, government officials said on Monday.

They made the remarks ahead of the 2023 China International Fair for Trade in Services, which will be held from Sept 2 to 6 in Beijing.

Chen Chunjiang, assistant minister of commerce, said that in addition to proactively aligning with high-standard international economic and trade rules, the government will upgrade the establishment of national demonstration zones for innovative development of trade in services.

The country will also build high-standard service outsourcing demonstration cities to cultivate new forms and models of services trade in various sectors, thus creating fresh momentum in service exports, said Chen.

In contrast to goods trade, trade in services refers to the sale and delivery of intangible services, such as transportation, finance, tourism, telecommunications, construction, advertising, computing and accounting.

China's trade in services maintained growth momentum in the first half, with cumulative trade value growing 8.5 percent year-on-year to 3.14 trillion yuan ($429.65 billion), the Ministry of Commerce said.

Given that China's trade volume of digitally deliverable services surged 12.3 percent in the first six months, surpassing the overall growth rate of trade in services by 3.8 percentage points, the country will deploy more resources to optimize the business environment in this field, said Wang Dongtang, director-general of the department of trade in services and commercial services at the Ministry of Commerce.

The aim is to elevate the level of trade digitization and speed up the cultivation of new momentum in the digital development of trade in services, Wang said.

CIFTIS this year will further emphasize its role as a leader in technological innovation, new business models and emerging formats, said Sima Hong, Beijing's vice-mayor.

The main exhibition and nine specialized thematic exhibitions will focus on showcasing advanced achievements in specialized and emerging areas, including chip technology, quantum measurement and control, satellite remote sensing, artificial intelligence and digital healthcare, she said.

Ajlan & Bros Holding — a privately owned Saudi company — will showcase the full range of business results achieved by the group's joint ventures with its Chinese partners at its booth during CIFTIS next month.

"We are keen to strike strategic partnerships with more Chinese companies, especially in the areas we focus on, including finance, science and technology, industrial manufacturing, tourism and healthcare," said Mohammed Al Ajlan, chairman of the Saudi-Chinese Business Council and deputy chairman of Ajlan & Bros Holding.

He said the Saudi company is committed to playing a role as a gateway to the Middle East and North Africa region as always, aiming to build a better ecosystem for China-Saudi industry cooperation to achieve win-win results.

With a conviction that trade in services will have a more substantial role in driving revenue growth, prominent Chinese retailer and e-commerce giant Suning.com is set to fortify its services prowess. Through the utilization of cloud-store solutions, the company aims to amplify the expansion of its business portfolio, including 300 flagship stores and an additional 20,000 retail outlets across China.

Ren Jun, president of Suning.com, said the company will accelerate its transformation from a retailer to a retail service provider, specifically a services-oriented retailer. This transformation will involve connecting with a more diverse array of ecological partners to serve a broader base of users and suppliers.

The Ministry of Commerce has designated 2023 as "Invest in China Year", featuring over 20 foreign investment-related events, including CIFTIS and the 23rd China International Fair for Investment and Trade, which will take place in Xiamen, Fujian province, from Sept 8 to 11.