Measures to spur innovation in services trade unveiled –

A visitor interacts with a portable intelligent robot during the 2019 China International Fair for Trade in Services in Beijing on May 28, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

China has introduced 26 opening-up measures, including allowing foreign institutions to independently run economic and technological exhibitions, and supporting more overseas professionals to start businesses in the country, to spur innovation in the services trade, said the Ministry of Commerce on Wednesday.

The ministry will work with other government branches to conduct open stress tests for the cross-border delivery of business deals and overseas consumption activities such as enabling local firms to partner with overseas institutions to develop cross-border commercial medical insurance products and giving the green light to foreigners to operate non-vessel common carrier service in the country, said Xian Guoyi, director-general of the ministry’s department of trade in services and commercial services.

His remarks came as the State Council, China’s Cabinet, approved a plan earlier this month, allowing more areas to carry out the pilot program, which aims to facilitate a higher level of opening-up in the country’s services trade by further refining government policies and reforming the existing administrative and regulatory systems.

The country has expanded the pilot program to spur innovative development in the services trade in 28 cities and regions, including Beijing, Xi’an and Urumqi, underscoring the country’s efforts to stabilize foreign trade and foster new growth drivers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to exploring the relaxation of restrictive measures in specific service areas and promoting mutual recognition of professional qualifications between China and other countries, the official said the government will further simplify work visa policies to facilitate qualified foreigners to work and develop their businesses in the country.

If all these tests and measures work well, the government will encourage pilot cities and regions to further strengthen international cooperation in services trade, in particular in areas such as education, law and finance, and build international service trade cooperation parks when the conditions are ready, he said.

In contrast to merchandise trade, trade in services refers to the sale and delivery of intangible products such as transportation, healthcare, product development, logistics, tourism, telecommunications, construction, advertising, computing and accounting.

For the next stage, Xian said more resources will be deployed for the growth of services trade in the northeast, central and western regions. As many pilot cities are located in these regions, the government will formulate specific and feasible implementation plans based on their own industrial characteristics and location advantages.

It aims to cultivate new competitive points in areas including digital trade, transportation, tourism, culture, traditional Chinese medicine, service outsourcing and other fields to better boost economic transformation and upgrade coordinated regional development.

Eager to pursue healthy growth in the sector and the country’s emphasis on services trade, Beijing will hold the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services scheduled for early September. The event will have both online and offline exhibitions.

This year’s fair covers areas including trade in cultural products, tourism services, financial services, winter sports, and industrial- and service-themed robots. It includes four major forums and more than 100 seminars and promotional events. The value of tentative deals reached at the fair amounted to $105 billion in 2019.

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