BEIJING (XINHUA) – Government leaders worldwide and international organisations officials have applauded the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) unveiled recently in Beijing, stressing the importance of services trade and cooperation with China in promoting global economic recovery.
Trade in services must underpin most national and regional development strategies, said United Nations (UN) Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi in his online speech at the opening of the fair last Friday.
“A services-led structural transformation is today a viable development strategy for many developing countries, and efforts at addressing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic can be a catalyst at setting this transformation in motion,” he said.
Taking ICT (Information and Communications Technology) services and digitisation as an example, Kituyi held that services-backed digitisation can be instrumental to improving supply and export capacity and therefore enhancing economic resilience and promoting post-pandemic recovery.
“China knows better than most countries the critical role the new generation of information technologies can play in epidemic control and prevention, and continuation of industrial production,” he noted.
Argentine President Alberto Fernandez stressed the importance of trade in services for the country’s development, saying that Argentina is “proudly” joining the fair, which is one of the largest and most important events following efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also highlighted that mutually beneficial cooperation with China is key to global economic recovery, and expressed the desire to deepen ties with the Asian country.
Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha also said that his country is looking forward to stepping up bilateral trade and service cooperation with China.
He expressed admiration for China’s commitment to strengthening international trade and economic cooperation, promoting world economic recovery and ensuring stable global demand and supply chains.
As Thailand has taken an active part in exhibitions and forums on food, energy and many other areas during the CIFTIS, Prayut said he hopes trade barriers will be reduced and more transparent rules for trading services will be introduced.
To prevent the global economic downturn caused by the pandemic and boost trade in services as a new growth engine, South Korean Deputy Prime Minister Hong Nam-ki said that South Korea and China are “required to alleviate excessive regulations and policy barriers that restrict services trade”.
“Trade barriers and regulations inflated the cost for services trade compared to goods trade,” he added.
The deputy prime minister also said that the two countries should expand their bilateral exchanges and innovative services development.
“The CIFTIS can provide a great opportunity to expand the exchange of innovative services technology,” said Hong, adding that the event is also a symbol of China’s victory against the pandemic.
Similarly, in his online speech for the CIFTIS’ opening, World Trade Organization (WTO) Deputy Director-General Yi Xiaozhun said that the event highlights China’s success in the combat against COVID-19, and demonstrates that the Chinese government constantly promotes market opening and trade in services.
Highlighting services as the new frontier of global trade, the WTO official noted that services trade plays a crucial role in achieving sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth, adding that it is of crucial importance that policy-makers place services at the centre of their future work.
“Recognising that unilateral protectionist actions lead to international trade tensions and bring damage to global economy, most WTO members choose to cooperate within the multilateral trading system which provides rules-based, transparent and predictable conditions for services trade,” he added.
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also suggested that events such as the CIFTIS should focus on not only economic growth, but also human development and creating opportunities to lift people out of poverty.
In his online speech at the fair’s opening, Tedros welcomed innovation such as big data and digital technology, but said “innovation is of most value when it narrows inequalities, not widens them,” calling for building more equitable, sustainable and resilient societies through innovation against the backdrop of COVID-19.
The 2020 CIFTIS is the first major international economic and trade event held both online and offline by China since the COVID-19 outbreak.
Themed ‘Global Services, Shared Prosperity’, the six-day fair has a comprehensive exhibition area and eight special exhibition areas. A total of 18,000 enterprises and institutions from 148 countries and regions and about 100,000 people have registered for it.