China issues negative list for cross-border services trade

Beijing: China on Monday released its first negative list for services trade, set to further improve the transparency and predictability of the business environment.
The list of cross-border service trade in the Hainan Free Trade Port (FTP) specified 70 special management measures in 11 categories for overseas services providers, said China’s Ministry of Commerce in a statement.
For areas not included in the list, domestic and overseas services providers will have a level playing field and enjoy equal market access in the port, the statement added.
“The list serves as a major breakthrough in the management model of service trade,” Wang Shouwen, vice minister of commerce, told media at a press conference.
“It’s an institutional [market] opening arrangement that will help promote the liberalization of service trade and enhance China’s overall opening level,” he said.
The service industry, led by tourism, accounts for more than 60 percent of Hainan’s economy. The list was made in accordance with Hainan’s competitive edge, said Wang.
For example, foreign yachts entering and leaving the FTP will no longer have to apply for pilotage.
The list will come into effect on August 26.
Except for 2020, the global service trade growth rate is twice the pace of goods trade for the last decade, said Wang.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic shock, China’s service trade hit $661.7 billion in 2020, ranking second in the world. However, Wang cautioned that the volume still lags far behind the crown trader.
Among the 160 service sectors categorized by the World Trade Organization, China has exceeded its opening-up promise on Hainan’s negative list in around three-quarters of the sectors, said Wang.
He explained that Hainan was chosen as the first to implement the negative list on service trade because it is China’s largest special economic zone and holds a favorable geographical edge.
The list can be implemented with a high degree of openness and flexibility, and it’s convenient to conduct regulatory checks, said Wang.
“By accumulating experience and controlling risks in Hainan, we can accumulate experience and explore paths for the implementation of the negative list in a wider area in the next step,” he said.
–The Daily Mail-CGTN
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