Editor’s note: Matteo Giovannini is a finance professional at the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China in Beijing and member of the China Task Force at the Italian Ministry of Economic Development. The article reflects the author’s views, and not necessarily those of CGTN.

At a time of difficult relationship between the world’s two largest economies, of ongoing recovery from the effects of a global pandemic, and of surging risks of market disruption, any initiative aimed at safeguarding the linkage of global trading partners and at defending the basic principles of cooperation deserves the utmost admiration.

The 2022 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS), a massive trade fair launched in 2012 that had accumulated over half a trillion U.S. dollars of intended transactions as of 2020, kicked off on August 31 at the National Convention Center and at the Shougang Park in Beijing. The event, originally known as Beijing Fair, was scheduled to last for six days until September 5.

Along with the China International Import Expo and the China Import and Export Fair, CIFTIS represents one of China’s three most important platforms showcasing the country’s goal for high-quality economic development while adopting a win-win approach toward the rest of the world.

This year’s event has a total exhibition area of 152,000 square meters and features a greater level of internationalization with 446 Global Fortune 500 companies and 1,407 industry-leading enterprises that attend the exhibition offline. More than 70 countries and international organizations have taken part in the event representing nations such as the UK, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates.

I believe that the decision of Chinese President Xi Jinping to send a congratulatory letter to the event was highly significant because it showed that China’s effort to play a pivotal role in the promotion of multilateralism and to act as an advocate of concrete actions for a quick recovery of the global economy is on top of the agenda of the country’s leadership.

The growing importance of service trade, whether it is related to transportation, tourism, telecommunication, advertising, computing, or accounting, is due to its role as a backbone of the global economy. In particular, digitalized services have shown a booming trend since the beginning of the pandemic, with the rise of new avenues for the delivery of services leading to a dramatic boost in efficiency for several industries and paving the way for a greener future.

In this context, China has played a decisive role considering that the country has been the world’s second-largest trader of services for years and has experienced a constant growth in the trade of knowledge-intensive services. More recently, the country has experienced, despite a constantly changing external environment, a boom in service trades with both import and export of services that have reached a total amount of 2891 billion Chinese yuan ($419 billion) in the first half of 2022, surging 21 percent compared to the same period in 2021.

It cannot be denied that a key element in China’s flourishing service trade in recent years has been the implementation of pilot programs for promoting an innovative form of development and aimed at expanding the liberalization of trade in services.

In August 2020, the State Council approved a pilot program for a comprehensive development of trade in services in 28 areas of the country. The pilot program, which was set to last for a period of three years, insists on reform and opening up policy, promotes an improved mechanism for cross-border trade in services, and significantly widens the domestic service sector’s market access.

The theme of this year’s CIFTIS, “cooperate for better development, innovate for a greener future,” well summarized the key elements for a post-pandemic recovery of the global economy. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has clearly shown that individualism does not pay off and that major global issues can only be solved through mutual exchange and genuine cooperation. Meanwhile, the explosion in technological and digital innovation has increased the weight of the service sector, leveraging the loss of growth in traditional industrial and manufacturing sectors.

I believe that in the post-pandemic era, China will be able to catalyze even more policy actions toward a further opening-up of its service trade industry and in this way to enhance the country’s international competitiveness.

The introduction of measures to either relax market access restrictions or to optimize the market environment will have a dual effect.

Firstly, an increased degree of competition in China’s service industry will help Chinese private and state-owned enterprises to align their standards and rules with those of the rest of the world while introducing world-best practices at the domestic level.

Secondly, the new measures will contribute to producing a more efficient and robust economic recovery, attracting more high-quality services that will promote domestic industrial upgrade, and building a business environment that benefits the Chinese consumers.

As the services sector continues to play a dominant role in the Chinese economy, with the country’s leadership that sees it as key to achieving sustainable economic growth and as a way to improve the level of competitiveness and cooperation on the international stage, CIFTIS conveyed a strong message of openness to the rest of the world.

It is now up to the rest of world to demonstrate responsibility and pragmatism.

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