Interview: UNCTAD economist says CIFTIS to promote balanced recovery of world economy

(Xinhua) 09:22, September 03, 2021

GENEVA, Sept. 2 (Xinhua) -- China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) is benefiting the growth of trade in services, revitalizing international trade and investment, and promoting a balanced recovery of the world economy, a senior United Nations (UN) economist has said.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world economy has fallen into the most serious recession as of the end of World War II, with the total global output falling by more than 3 percent in 2020, Liang Guoyong, a senior economist with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

The imbalances are shown between different countries and regions, as well as between different industries and economic sectors, but in trade, mainly between trade in goods and services, he said.

UNCTAD statistics have revealed that international trade suffered a significant shock since the pandemic, with total global trade falling by about 9 percent in 2020. Although the overall resilience is better than expected, the divergence is obvious -- trade in goods fell by 6 percent but with a strong recovery, while trade in services fell by 17 percent, only showing a weak recovery.

According to Liang, the CIFTIS, held against this backdrop, will undoubtedly add new impetus to the rebound of trade in services and the recovery of the world economy, help curb the trend of anti-globalization that has been strengthened since the pandemic, and create an environment of international cooperation with unity, openness and inclusiveness.

"If trade in goods was the main driver of trade growth in the early stages of globalization, the trade in services which is technology-intensive is expected to lead the new wave of globalization," said Liang.

"China, as the second largest economy in the world, is in a critical period of rapid economic transformation and upgrading, of great development of the tertiary industry, and of opening up to the outside world and deepening internationalization of its enterprises, with great potential for the development of service trade," he added.

Liang said he believes that China's service industry has obvious latecomer advantages, mainly in three aspects.

First, there is a large gap between the international competitiveness of China's service trade and that of developed economies; second, the development of China's service industry is relatively lagging behind, and there is a large gap between the international competitiveness of its service trade and that of its goods trade; and third, in view of international payment and trade balance, China's trade in services has a large deficit, which contrasts with the large surplus in its trade in goods.

He said that as China continues with its economic transformation and upgrading, with the rapid development of its service industry and the rising international competitiveness of its service enterprises, its latecomer advantages and the development potential of China's service trade will be released continuously, foretelling a broad growth prospect of service trade.

As China's exports of services grow, its new opening initiatives and expansion of imports will also bring important opportunities for other countries, thus providing new momentum for globalization, he noted.

Liang said that the CIFTIS, as the world's largest comprehensive fair for services trade, is highly expected worldwide. Since its inception in 2012, the CIFTIS has conveyed the signals of openness, innovation, cooperation and win-win situation to the world, which has been impressive. This year's event focuses on digitalization and low-carbon economy, which will bring in more fresh ideas, he said.

According to Liang, China's economy is at the forefront of the world in terms of digitalization, which has given birth to a large number of world-class enterprises and entrepreneurs.

The digital economy has become the most dynamic component of the Chinese economy, and cross-border e-commerce a new growth point for international trade, noted the economist.

China's commitment to carbon neutrality shows its global leadership in addressing climate change, which will also greatly promote the low-carbon transformation and green development of the country's economy, he stressed. 

(Web editor: Xia Peiyao, Liang Jun)


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