China will create broader market space for services providers from overseas by removing entrance barriers and making more convenient services available for foreign professionals to start businesses, the Ministry of Commerce said on Wednesday.
The ministry has introduced 26 measures, such as allowing foreign institutions to independently run economic and technological exhibitions and helping local firms to form partnerships with foreign counterparts to develop cross-border commercial medical insurance products.
"These measures are now in trial use in the 28 pilot cities and regions for the innovative development of the services trade. They will be expanded to other regions of the country when conditions are ripe," said Xian Guoyi, head of the ministry's Department of Trade In Services and Commercial Services.
Xian's remark came after the State Council, China's Cabinet, approved a plan early this month allowing more cities and regions to host the pilot program. It aims to facilitate a higher level of opening-up in the country's services trade by further refining government policies and reforming the existing administrative and regulatory systems.
The country has expanded the pilot program to spur innovative development of services in 28 cities and regions, including Beijing, Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province, and Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, underscoring efforts to stabilize foreign trade and foster new growth drivers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The services trade refers to the sale and delivery of intangible products such as transportation, healthcare, product development, logistics, tourism and telecommunications.
In addition to exploring the relaxation of restrictive measures in specific areas and promoting mutual recognition of professional qualifications among China and other countries, Xian said the government will further simplify work visa policies to help qualified foreigners work and develop their businesses.
In the next stage, he said, more resources will be made available for the growth of services businesses in the country's northeastern, central and western regions.
As many pilot cities are located in these regions, the government will formulate specific and feasible implementation plans based on their own industrial characteristics and location advantages.
The plans aim to cultivate new competitive nodes in areas such as digital businesses, transportation, tourism, traditional Chinese medicine and other fields to better boost economic transformation and upgrade coordinated regional development.
Stan Zurkiewicz, executive vice president of Stuttgart-based Dekra Group, a large testing, certification and inspection company, said China has responded to various crises in the past by accelerating market reforms and opening-up.
"We believe that after the priority of containing the pandemic has been accomplished, China will embark on another wave of market reforms, further improving the investment environment in the country's services trade sector," he said. "We believe in the enormous long-term potential of the Chinese market, and Dekra will continue to invest in the country."
Barbara Woodward, British ambassador to China, said trade in services will become a major part of future China-UK business ties as both nations have a strong desire to deepen their cooperation in financial, educational and energy development services.
Eager to pursue the healthy growth of the sector and the country's emphasis on services, Beijing will hold the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services, scheduled for early September. The event, which will have both online and offline exhibitions, will include four major forums and more than 100 seminars and promotional events.