CIFTIS 2020: China’s Determination on Quality Opening Up

Open cooperation in the service sector will become an increasingly important driver for development.
by Nie Pingxiang
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Photo taken on Sept. 9, 2020 shows a passage to the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) in Beijing, capital of China. The six-day CIFTIS concluded in Beijing on Wednesday. As the first major international economic and trade event held by China since the outbreak of COVID-19, this year's CIFTIS has attracted 22,000 enterprises and institutions from 148 countries and regions, including 199 Fortune 500 companies. Provincial-level regions, centrally-administered state-owned enterprises and financial institutions have formed trade groups for the first time, participating in active transactions, with 240 contracts signed. The 2020 CIFTIS hosted exhibitions and 190 forums and business talks covering 12 major sectors such as transport, travel, construction, insurance services, financial services, telecommunications, computer and information services, as well as cultural services. (Xinhua/Chen Zhonghao)

The 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) is the world’s largest comprehensive exhibition in the field of global trade in services and one of China’s three major exhibition platforms featuring the country’s opening up, with the other two being China Import and Export Fair (Canton Fair) and China International Import Expo (CIIE).

Themed “Global Services, Shared Prosperity,” the event fully demonstrates China’s determination to globally share the benefits of innovative developments in the service sector. China is an important contributor to the growth of global trade in services. According to statistics, China’s services exports have grown at an average annual rate of 9 percent over the past 15 years, 2.9 percentage points higher than the global average. In the same period, China’s services imports totaled US$4.5 trillion, contributing 12.9 percent to the growth of global services imports, boosting global service imports by 10.4 percentage points. Especially since the international financial crisis in 2008, China’s importation of services has played a constructive role in stimulating demand in the global services market and promoting the growth of global trade in services. In the next 15 years, China’s cumulative services imports are expected to reach US$10 trillion.

This year’s CIFTIS integrated contents of the China (Beijing) International Cultural & Creative Industry Expo (ICCIE), the China International Tourism Commodities Fair (CITCF), the Beijing International Finance Expo (BIFE), the World Winter Sports (Beijing) Expo and the World Robot Conference (WRC), with a new “1+8+N” model. “1” refers to a comprehensive exhibition area that showcases the achievements of China’s trade in services, as well as the latest trends, technology, and products; “8” refers to eight themed exhibition areas respectively for cultural services, financial services, world winter sports, tourism and travel-related services, service robots, education services, sports services, and 5G communication services; “N” stands for various functional service areas for business talks, experiencing, catering and other supporting services. Affected by the epidemic situation, CIFTIS is held both online and offline. Overseas guests and exhibitors mainly participate in the exhibition online, and domestic entities mainly participate in the offline exhibition.

As the world economy is shivering in a harsh winter amid the coronavirus pandemic, CIFTIS brings a ray of warmth for global growth.

Demonstrating China’s Determination to Continue Opening Up

The 2020 CIFTIS is the first major international economic and trade event held in China since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. China will remain steadfast in opening up wider to the world, Xi said, while addressing CIFTIS. China will continue to work on a negative list system for managing the cross-border trade in services, develop open platforms for the pilot program of innovative development of the service sector, further ease market access for the service sector, and take greater initiative to increase imports of quality services. The country has once again demonstrated its firm belief in free trade and an open global economy, as well as its rock-solid determination to strengthen global economic and trade cooperation.

Promoting Innovative Development of China’s Trade in Services

The event again stressed that China will develop open platforms for the pilot program of innovative development of the service sector. China will continue to build bases for featured services exporting and develop new business forms and models in trade in services, which will help further consolidate the consensus of various departments in China to promote the development of trade in services and open up the service industry at a higher level. At the same time, through the display of new developments and breakthroughs in trade in services, domestic enterprises can fully grasp the new trend of global developments in trade in services, and promote innovation and development of domestic trade in services.

Becoming A Platform for Deepening Global Economic and Trade Cooperation

Open cooperation in the service sector will become an increasingly important driver for development. Facing a grim global economy due to the COVID-19 epidemic, it is even more urgent for all countries to work together to jumpstart recovery. The 2020 CIFTIS serves as an international platform for dialogue and cooperation, policy coordination and exchange of experience between countries in trade in services. It will help Chinese and foreign enterprises get new orders and expand to new markets, and become an important channel for deepening global economic and trade cooperation.

The author is a researcher of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, the Ministry of Commerce.