Rebuilding Confidence in Times of Uncertainty

2020-09-07 11:40:00 Source:China Today Author:staff reporters ZHOU LIN & DANG XIAOFEI
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On September 5, the forum “Trade Facilitation in Services: Perspective of Multinationals” – one of the four highly-anticipated summit forums at the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) was held at the China National Convention Center. 
Attendees from international organizations and multinationals reached a consensus that the global trade in services plays a crucial role in reviving the world’s economy and will provide new opportunities for the development of multinationals in times of uncertainty. China, as a contributor, supporter, and trailblazer in the innovative development of the global trade in services, will advance deep-level reforms, high-level opening-up, and all-round innovations to rebuild investors’ confidence in China and beyond.

Some attendees of the forum  on Trade Facilitation in Services: Perspective of Multinationals pose for a picture.  

According to the WTO, the services trade has become a new driving force for global trade and economic growth. The share of the services trade in total global trade has increased from nine percent in 1970 to 24 percent in 2019. In addition, the status of the services trade in the global value chain has been on the rise. A report from the McKinsey Global Institute shows that approximately one-third of the value of trade in goods can be attributed to the services sector.
“Further opening up the services market will better promote economic growth,” the World Bank’s Vice President for East Asia and Pacific Victoria Kwakwa shared her views at the forum, saying that countries should strengthen cooperation to further promote trade facilitation in services and reduce and eliminate barriers to the services trade.  
In recent years, the trend of service-oriented transformation and development of multinationals has become increasingly significant, and some traditional large-scale product manufacturers have transformed into integrated service solution providers. Meanwhile, small and medium-sized enterprises participate in international trade through cross-border e-commerce platforms, thus becoming a new force in the development of the global services trade.
“As important participants, witnesses, and beneficiaries of the services trade cooperation between China and other countries, multinational corporations play a unique role in China’s trade in services and are an important bridge connecting China and the world,” said deputy director of the Development Research Center of the State Council Zhang Junkuo at the forum.
“The insurance industry is showing resilience in face of the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” pointed out Jerome Jean Haegeli, Swiss Re’s Group Chief Economist, at the forum. He was also impressed by China’s forward-looking policies, including those that have boosted the country’s development of the green economy and those aiming to facilitate the flow of goods, capital, technology, personnel, data, and other factors across the globe. 
Offering affordable and high-quality services with the help of digital technology is what the ABB Group CEO Bjorn Rosengren emphasized upon. In China, the ABB Group has a full range of business activities including R&D, manufacturing, sales, and engineering services. “China provides a good opportunity for ABB,” said Rosengren at the forum. He revealed that China has become ABB’s second largest market, and the group will continue to expand its investment in China. 
On August 10, 2020, Fortune magazine released the Fortune Global 500 list of 2020. The number of Chinese companies on the list hit a record high of 133, surpassing the United States for the first time, whose number was 121 this year.
Zhang Jiaming, vice mayor of the Beijing municipal government, revealed at the forum that the State Council had approved the work plan for building a national integrated demonstration zone for greater openness in the services sector. According to the work plan, multinationals will be provided facilitation in establishment of R&D centers, offshore service centers, and operating headquarters in Beijing. Up to now, multinationals including Tesla, Merck & Co., and BMW, have already settled down in Beijing. “In the future, Beijing will continue to expand the opening-up of the service sector, optimize the business environment, and accelerate the construction of high-level opening-up platforms in order to build a world-class harmonious and livable city, advance the country’s overall opening-up, and galvanize global economic recovery.”

Jens Eskelund, managing director of Maersk China and vice president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, speaks at the forum. Photos by Yu Jie

“I am glad to hear that the Chinese government is showing willingness to join hands with all nations to enable global trade in services to thrive and the world economy to recover at an early date,” managing director of Maersk China Jens Eskelund told China Today on the sideline of the forum, who is also vice president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in ChinaHe further pointed out, “Just as Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed in his remarks, the sudden attack of COVID-19 may have prevented us from meeting face-to-face, but it cannot block the growth of trade in services. We are all looking forward to it.” 

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