Beijing: China should further open its fledgling services sector to foreign investment to help sustain its economic rise, World Trade Organisation director general Pascal Lamy said on Monday.
“The WTO needs China to take the lead in pursuing greater services opening,” Lamy said at a services trade fair in Beijing.
A file photo of Pascal Lamy (Bloomberg)
China’s commerce minister, Chen Deming, told the same fair that the country would adopt a more active opening-up strategy.
“We will steadily open more widely the financial, logistics, energy-saving and environmental protection sectors, and encourage foreign investment in knowledge-intensive sectors such as specialized designs and software development,” Chen said in a speech at the same event.
Chen’s comments were published on the ministry’s website www.mofcom.gov.cn
He said China would become the world’s biggest consumer market by 2015, with retail sales exceeding $5 trillion.
China’s services sector is relatively underdeveloped despite its breakneck economic growth, making up just 43% of gross domestic product (GDP), compared with more than 70% in Western economies.
China wants to increase the share to 47% of GDP by 2015, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.
Lamy said China’s milestone 2001 entry into the WTO and the ensuing stable global trade environment had contributed to the country’s economic success over the past 10 years.
Opening up the services industry could unlock new sources of growth at a time when the world’s second-largest economy is slowing.
But analysts are sceptical China would move quickly because it wants to protect domestic firms, even though the government says it supports freeing up the services sector, as reiterated by Premier Wen Jiabao on Monday.
Speaking at the same trade fair, Wen called for the services industry to be liberalised and he encouraged Chinese firms to expand overseas, Xinhua quoted him as saying.
Wen said the government would encourage Chinese firms to outsource software, information and construction services, while boosting imports of advanced technological and management services.
He was reported as saying China’s services imports would hit $1.25 trillion in the coming five years.
China was the world’s fourth-biggest trader of services in 2011, importing and exporting about $419 billion dollars worth of services, Xinhua said.