he six-day China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) concluded on 9 September in Beijing, wrapping up the country’s first major trade event held either online or offline since the outbreak of Covid-19.
Against the backdrop of a sluggish economic recovery from the pandemic and a gloomy picture painted by rising trade tensions, this year’s fair is not only about business, but also about confidence. In a video speech at the opening ceremony, Chinese President Xi Jinping said the event showed China’s willingness to boost the global trade in services and the world economy at an early date.
Previously known as the Beijing Fair, the event, first held in 2012, has become the world’s biggest comprehensive exhibition in the services trade, and is one of China’s three top expos showcasing the country’s opening-up, along with the Canton Fair in Guangzhou and the China International Import Expo in Shanghai.
With the theme “Global Services, Shared Prosperity,” this year’s fair attracted more than 17,000 companies from 148 countries and regions. The event offered one comprehensive exhibition area, as well as eight focused exhibition areas, covering the services trade in culture, finance, winter sports, tourism, service robots, education and 5G. Organizers offered an online channel for businesses to showcase themselves and make deals at a time of pandemic travel restrictions.
Speaking at a press conference at the conclusion of CIFTIS, Xian Guoyi, director-general of the Department of Trade in Services and Commercial Services under the Ministry of Commerce, said this year’s event has yielded impressive results, witnessing the debuts of 99 innovations and the inking of 240 procurement agreements. At a forum during CIFTIS, Beijing Mayor Chen Jining announced the host city’s ambition to build a pilot free trade zone themed on the digital economy, two days before the city’s authorities released a blueprint and action plans at CIFTIS. The plans lay out six major development directions and pledge nine key projects to ensure continued development of the city’s digital economy.
The documents also set the lofty goals of developing Beijing into a domestic leader and model in the digital economy, with the digital economy’s added value making up 55 percent of regional GDP by 2022.
China has been the world’s second-largest country in terms of the services trade for six years in a row, with trade volumes totaling 5.4 trillion yuan (US$790b) in 2019, according to official data.