Services industry must improve, say guidelines

Updated: 2011-11-29 09:10

By Wei Tian (China Daily)

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BEIJING - "Made in China" will soon be joined by "Served by China" as a driver of growth in the world's second-largest economy. That's because 30 high-value-added service industries are set to receive prioritized support over the next five years, a trade official said on Monday.

Services industry must improve, say guidelines

Guests play a 4D game at the 2010 China International Trade in Services Exposition in Beijing. China's services trade is expected to reach $600 billion in 2015. [Photo/China Daily] 

The country has set the service trade the target of generating $600 billion in 2015, with 45 percent of the volume coming from high-value-added services, according to guidelines drafted by the Ministry of Commerce, in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015).

The target will be achieved through annual growth of more than 11 percent from an estimated $410 billion this year, said Zhou Liujun, director of the department of trade in services and commercial services at the ministry, at a news briefing in Beijing.

China's services trade has registered growth of 17 percent annually in recent years, from $191.7 billion in 2006 to $362.4 billion in 2010, making the country the fourth-largest global trader in services, contributing 5.1 percent of the world's total.

However, the industry failed to meet the 2010 target of $400 billion, because of the "unforeseeable crisis in 2008", said Zhou.

"So, the growth target we have set for 2015 is slower compared with previous years, because we still see uncertainties in the debt crises in the United States and Europe," Zhou said.

However, services will definitely grow at a faster rate than the commodities sector, and 11 percent is only the minimum target, he added.

In 2010, services accounted for 9.7 percent of China's overall trade volume, less than half the average global level of 21 percent.

Sectors such as transportation, tourism and insurance have registered deficits over a sustained period, Zhou said. In the first three quarters in 2011, the combined deficit in these three sectors exceeded $64 billion.

Meanwhile, about 60 percent of the services trade in China is still generated by low-value-added industries, such as construction services.

According to the guidelines, specific support will be provided for 30 industries including tourism, IT services, education, accounting and advertising, as a means of boosting the export of high-value-added services.

Along with stronger financial support and tougher measures on the protection of intellectual property rights, targets will be set for a number of sectors. Among them is tourism, where the trading volume is expected to break into the global top five, and accounting, which is expected to produce three companies that will rank among the world's top 30 by 2015.

Meanwhile, China will import more than $1.25 trillion in services over the next five years, Zhou said.

The eagerness of China's younger generation to obtain education overseas, and the opportunities presented to suppliers of medical services by the nation's aging population are some of the factors that will facilitate imports, he said.

Zhang Jianping, senior researcher at the Institute for International Economic Research at the National Development and Reform Commission, said Chinese manufacturing has established its competitiveness in the global market, but the service industry badly needs to catch up.

While encouraging more companies to invest overseas, there should be more participation in marketing, management and research and development to expand the trade in services at the same time, Zhang said in an interview with China National Radio.