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Overseas Guests

Yi Xiaozhun

As the international trade continues to be affected by the rise of protectionism, we need to attach great importance to the opening of service markets and rule-based multilateral trading system.

First, digitalization is changing international trade and service industry from a number of fundamental levels. New digital technologies blur the line between goods and services. The manufacturing industry is now characterized by computer integration, 3D printing, automation, advanced analysis of big data, and the Internet of Things, that is the so-called fourth industrial revolution. And through this revolution, digital technology combined manufacturing and service industries. For example, German major automakers BMW and Mercedes recently launched a joint project called "Mobile Services", which combined the production, parking, tolls and the supply of multimodal transport services of autonomous vehicles. The project will enable 60 million customers of these two companies to enjoy BMW and Mercedes-Benz and their services anywhere in the world. This example shows that by building new digital technologies, the service industry is defining a future manufacturing landscape.

The data-driven, digital platform is conceived to coordinate numerous functions along the supply chain and has become a dominant business model across all industries. For example, Alibaba is such a platform that millions of designers, manufacturers, traders, creditors, logistics providers and consumers all interact and complement each other in this vast network ecosystem. In addition to the B2C platforms such as Amazon and Uber, the digital platform has also flourished in the B2B market, changing the basic service industries such as finance, transportation and logistics services. Digital platforms have significantly increased productivity, reduced transaction costs, and increased competitiveness. Digital platforms, now at the heart of the supply chain management, are by nature providing services.

Second, market opening continues to be essential for trade in services in the digital age. Digital transformation has increased the complexity of trade in services transactions and poses regulatory challenges in many aspects. Therefore, when embracing digitalization, governments need to strike a right balance between different policy objectives, which is not an easy task. In addressing regulatory challenges of digitalization, it is important to keep service market open. In the digital economy, developing countries must overcome more challenges than developed countries. Protectionism is definitely not the solution. Rather, only through building an open business environment would it be possible to address these challenges.

Third, the multilateral trading system is still crucial. The current WTO rules were negotiated before the digital age. However, the technology in these rules is neutral, which is conducive to enhancing transparency, eliminating discrimination and promoting fair competition. These rules are still valid in the digital age and can guide the government in formulating balanced policies and regulations. In response to the changing world situation, many WTO members, including China, are actively and constructively participating in several WTO negotiations or dialogues on e-commerce, domestic regulation of service industry, investment facilitation and micro-enterprise participation in trade, etc.

Finally, let's talk about the important role played by China. A stable and predictable multilateral trading system will be of great benefit to China's rise. Obviously, in order to achieve further development, China needs to improve its openness at the domestic and foreign levels. We have noted China's newly revised Foreign Investment Law and some of the latest measures to further open up the service market, covering fields such as banking, securities, telecommunications, education, medical care, and social services. These initiatives are not only welcomed by Chinese trading partners, but also will revitalize China's own economy.


[On the morning of May 28, Global Trade in Services Summit]