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China to further open up its service sector

Xu Wei
Updated: May 23,2018 8:41 PM

China will further open up its service sector by expanding the pilot program for the innovative development of trade in services, the State Council decided at an executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on May 23.

It was decided at the meeting that the pilot program will be rolled out in 17 areas, including Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2020, for the innovative development of trade in services. The program was first rolled out by the State Council in 2016.

A series of opening-up measures will be piloted in the 17 places covering telecommunications, tourism, engineering consulting, finance and legal services. Access mechanisms for trade in services on cross-border delivery and overseas consumption will be explored and refined. Restrictions will be gradually lifted or eased, and customs clearance and visa arrangements will be streamlined for freer flow of goods and people.

In this year’s Government Work Report, the Premier said that mechanisms for developing trade in services will be reformed.

“Developing trade in services is instrumental in transforming China’s development model and achieving high-quality development. The service sector is still an area of weakness in our country’s overall development,” Premier Li said.

“With things going well, we should lose no time in applying the experience gained from the pilot program to wider areas. This will help advance our opening-up and enhance China’s global competitiveness.”

Statistics from the Ministry of Commerce show that China’s trade in services totaled 4.7 trillion yuan in 2017, up by 6.8 percent year-on-year. Exports of services gained 10.6 percent and hit 1.54 trillion yuan, while imports rose 5.1 percent to 3.16 trillion yuan.

Premier Li stressed the importance of getting the priorities right in spurring trade in services. “Our tourism sector is falling woefully short at the moment. Efforts are needed to make the services at scenic spots and payment methods more friendly for overseas tourists. The possibility of two-way opening in emerging services should also be fully explored.”

According to a decision at the meeting, trade in services in such areas as R&D and design, inspection and testing, international settlement and exhibition will be expanded. Tax exemption policies will be made available for service exports, and eligible exporters can enjoy zero tax rates. Exports of emerging services that are guided by Internet Plus will be encouraged.

Premier Li stressed the need for closer inter-agency coordination and thorough delivery of all planned measures to improve the business environment and make trade in services a new highlight in China’s opening and development.