Beijing to build pilot free trade zone to further open up services industry
China's central government will support Beijing in setting up a pilot free trade zone characterizing scientific and technological innovation, opening-up of the services sector and the digital economy.
The decision was announced at the opening of the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) in Beijing on Friday.
The new zone will "serve as a platform of high-standard opening-up for the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, and open up new horizons for reform and opening-up at a higher level," Chinese President Xi Jinping said while addressing the CIFTIS Global Trade in Services Summit via video.
The move is part of Beijing's efforts to develop a "national integrated demonstration zone for greater openness in the services sector," which will enable the Chinese capital to "take bigger, bolder steps as a trailblazer and gain more experience that would be replicable and scalable," according to Xi.
CIFTIS is the first major international economic and trade event held both online and offline by China since the COVID-19 outbreak.
Open and inclusive environment for cooperation
In his speech, Xi called for joint efforts to foster an open and inclusive environment for cooperation, saying the world is going through profound shifts unseen in a century and the COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating such changes.
The president said the services sector is unique as it is asset-light but heavy in soft factors of production.
"As such, it requires, more than other sectors, an open, transparent, inclusive and non-discriminatory environment for businesses to grow," he stressed, calling for concerted efforts from all countries to reduce border and behind-the-border barriers constraining the flow of production factors and promote cross-border connectivity.
Xi pledged that China will remain steadfast in opening its door wider to the world.
"We will continue to work on a negative list system for managing cross-border services trade," he noted. "We will develop open platforms for the pilot program of innovative development of the services sector. We will further ease market access for the services sector, and will take greater initiative to increase imports of quality services."
Power of innovation
Xi called for joint efforts to unleash the power of innovation and drive cooperation forward.
"We need to adapt to the trend towards digital-driven, internet-based and smart growth, jointly eliminate the 'digital divide,' and advance digitalization of trade in services," he said.
"China will continue to build bases for featured services export and develop new business forms and models in services trade. China will work with other countries to enhance macro policy coordination, accelerate international cooperation in the digital sector, step up intellectual property protection, and facilitate the vibrant growth of the digital economy and sharing economy," Xi added, noting that such efforts will generate renewed dynamism for the world economy.
President Xi also stressed the importance of promoting mutually beneficial cooperation, saying that to treat each other with sincerity and pursue shared benefits is the key to state-to-state relations in today's world.
"Countries need to forge greater synergy in growing their trade in services, seek new ways and more areas of cooperation, and look for the widest possible converging interests in development so as to make the 'pie' bigger and bigger."
China will use CIFTIS and other platforms, such as the China International Import Expo, to promote policy exchange and experience-sharing, and foster diverse partnerships with foreign governments, international organizations, business associations and enterprises, Xi added.
"China supports the establishment of a global alliance for trade in services. We hope to see more fruits from our practical cooperation so that people in different countries will all benefit from a growing trade in services."
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