Digitalization injects fresh impetus into global service trade

(Xinhua) 11:24, September 06, 2023

A visitor is tested with a rehabilitation system at the booth of Beijing Tsinghua Changgung Hospital at the exhibition area of healthcare services of the 2023 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) at Shougang Park in Beijing, capital of China, Sept. 4, 2023. (Xinhua/Zhang Yuwei)

BEIJING, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) -- From the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence (AI) to blockchain, digital technologies have provided crucial support for global services trade and expanded horizons for the service sector, taking center stage at the 2023 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS), currently underway at the National Convention Center in Beijing.

Data from the World Trade Organization reveals that global digital service trade reached 3.82 trillion U.S. dollars in 2022, marking a 3.9 percent year-on-year increase and accounting for 53.7 percent of global service trade.

"The digital technology revolution has injected powerful new momentum into the development of the service trade. The ongoing information technology revolution, coupled with industrial transformation, has ushered in a new era of data-driven economic globalization," said Long Guoqiang, deputy head of the Development Research Center of the State Council, at a forum during CIFTIS 2023.

While the global economy continues its challenging path to recovery, experts at the event stressed the significance of digital service trade, which harnesses the potential of digital technologies and modern information networks as a vital component of international trade.

Digitalization, driven by innovation, is reshaping global service trade patterns, structures, rules, and the world trade landscape, acting as a catalyst for economic globalization and a new engine for international trade growth.

Jiang Xiaojuan, president of the China Society of Industrial Economics and a professor at the University of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, noted that digitization is a crucial driving force for global development. "In recent years, data-driven service trade has witnessed the fastest growth rate, with its share continuously expanding, establishing itself as a prominent component of the service trade and delivering significant contributions," Jiang said.

During the five-day event, a report on digital trade was jointly unveiled by the Development Research Center of the State Council and the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology. The report stated that "Over the past three years, global cross-border data flows have surged by 120.6 percent, while digital service trade has seen remarkable growth of 36.9 percent, outpacing the growth rates of global service and goods trade during the same period."

Accelerating digital transformation and actively fostering digital trade have emerged as essential strategies for many countries to seize opportunities in the digital era and address uncertain economic conditions.

According to Gianpaolo Bruno, trade commissioner of the Italian Trade Agency (ITA) Beijing Office and coordinator of ITA Offices in China and Mongolia, service trade has emerged as a vibrant sector and a pivotal propeller for economic development, in an era marked by profound global economic integration and rapid digital technological progress.

Noting that digitalization is bringing great advantages to the service industry, Bruno said Italy views digital transformation as one of its priorities to foster economic growth, drive innovation and enhance productivity.

China is investing heavily in research and development, and expanding into the Chinese market can offer significant opportunities for Italian companies across various sectors, such as consumer goods and luxury products, automotive and engineering, and e-commerce and digital platforms, he said.

In recent years, China has attached great importance to the development of digital trade and international cooperation, with the country's digital trade development maintaining robust momentum. In 2022, its total digital service import and export value reached 371.08 billion U.S. dollars, up 3.2 percent year on year, the third highest growth rate among the top 10 countries in terms of digital service trade scale.

Speaking at the CIFTIS, IMF Resident Representative for the People's Republic of China, Steven Alan Barnett, pointed out that the world economy is still facing challenges. He stressed the vital role of promoting global service trade development, with China serving as a key hub in Asian trade.

The thriving digital economy and its expansive market have spurred many global players to identify new business prospects. At CIFTIS, a multitude of foreign-funded enterprises and international exhibitors converged in Beijing to foster close collaborations and explore potential business partners.

Among them is Intel China, which is participating in the fair for the second time. It has showcased its technologies and solutions in the areas of AI, personal computers, data centers and smart retail sales.

Zhou Bing, vice president of Intel, said the CIFTIS features "vitality and opportunities this year," adding that the company has announced cooperation with many Chinese partners at the fair.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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