What do you do if you are China and you’re making a comeback after COVID-19 with your first international offline (that’s face-to-face) trade congress for eight months?

Answer: host the China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) in Beijing.

Actually, that’s China making quite a big statement – it’s another way of saying “we’re back in business” and it’s certainly a way of saying that services matter. Here are Guanlidao’s highlights from CIFTIS and China’s Ambassador to the UK, Xiaoming Liu‘s article in China Daily on the subject:

  • In 2019, services’ value added accounted for 53.9 percent of China’s GDP and 59.4 percent of its economic growth.
  • China’s total services imports and exports has been the world’s second largest for six consecutive years.
  • CIFTIS hosted 17,000 businesses, 33 international organizations, 47 foreign embassies and 110 overseas business associations and institutions from 147 countries and regions.
  • China is continuing its call to international businesses for engagement, explicitly offering an open and inclusive environment, unleashing innovation and mutually beneficial cooperation. Not new, but repeated.
  • The initiative to watch is the three-year Pilot Program of Comprehensively Deepening Innovation and Development of Services Trade (referred to as the Pilot Program of Innovative Development of Service Trade) driven by China’s Ministry of Commerce and launched in August 2020. The provinces and cities receiving special focus are Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Chongqing, Hainan, Dalian, Xiamen, Qingdao, Shenzhen and Shijiazhuang. It comprises 26 distinct new measures in three areas: The first is open stress tests for cross-border supply and consumption abroad, such as working to allow foreign institutions to independently hold foreign-related economic and technological exhibitions, act as operating non-vessel carriers in China without being a Chinese enterprise legal person, and support cooperation with overseas institutions to develop cross-border commercial medical insurance products. The second is relaxing restrictive measures in specific service sectors for the movement of natural persons, promoting mutual recognition of professional qualifications, and helping overseas professionals travel to China for innovation and entrepreneurship. As an example, allowing qualified Hong Kong and Macao professionals to provide engineering consulting services in pilot areas such as Hainan, Shenzhen and Guangzhou and carry out pilots for mutual recognition of professional service qualifications with Hong Kong and Macao and exploring the integration of foreigners’ work permits and residence permits for workers and helping foreigners travel to China for work. The third is strengthening international cooperation in service trade, such as actively promoting international cooperation in education, law and finance, and building international parks to promote service trade cooperation.
  • China will focus on services in all twelve of the World Trade Organization‘s General Agreement on Trade in Services Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual Sixth Edition (BPM6 Table 10.1) services:  (1) manufacturing services on physical inputs owned by others, (2) transport, (3) travel, (4) construction, (5) insurance and pension services, (7) financial services, (8) charges for the use of intellectual property, (9) telecommunications, computer, and information services, (10) other business services, (11) personal, cultural, and recreational services and (12) Government goods and services.