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Service sector 'can fuel growth' amid sluggish economy

By Wei Tian  (China Daily)

13:49, May 23, 2012

Trade in services will play a bigger part as the growth engine of a cooling Chinese economy, as well as a driver for depressed product trade amid sluggish global demand, commerce officials said.

"With an increasing risk of another global downturn, countries are looking for new growth pole, and service trade has drawn much attention," Qiu Hong, China's assistant commerce minister, said in Beijing on Tuesday.

"China's domestic market (for service providers) still has huge potential, even amid global uncertainties ... and development of the service sector is the new opportunity for the Chinese economy," Qiu said at a news conference on the First China International Fair for Trade in Services, which is scheduled to be held in Beijing next week.

China ranks fourth globally with a service trade volume of $419.4 billion in 2011, and the country has been climbing up the table by one notch every year in recent years.

"With a growing pool of talent and more professional service providers, the growth of China's service trade will continue accelerating," Qiu said, adding that she was confident in the country achieving its goal to boost the service trade by 11 percent this year - the sector's average growth rate over the past five years.

The service trade, or labor trade, refers to cross-border business exchanges in sectors such as logistics, tourism, financial services, education and culture.

The world's service trade expanded from $5 trillion in 2005 to $8 trillion in 2011, according to the World Trade Organization, despite the global downturn.

"The growth of the service sector has been more stable compared with that of trade in goods, which is easily affected by global demand," Qiu said.

China's trade in goods continues to falter amid difficulties in its traditional trade partners such as Europe and Japan. Customs data show that the trade in goods grew only 6 percent in the first four months of the year, compared with a full-year target of 10 percent.

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