Cooperation Amidst Global Economic Headwinds

Published on 8th September 2020

Over the past few months, the people of China and other countries have supported and helped each other in a tenacious fight against COVID-19 and the global challenges that have come with it. Today, with COVID-19 yet to be brought under full control at the global level, all countries face the formidable task to defeat the virus, stabilize the economy, and protect livelihoods. 

Our world is going through profound changes unseen in a century, and the COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating such changes. Economic globalization has run up against headwinds; protectionism and unilateralism are on the rise; the world economy is in the doldrums; and international trade and investment have slumped. Such are the unprecedented challenges and tests in the work and life of mankind.

That said, let us not forget that a new round of technological and industrial revolution in recent years has spurred a boom in digital technologies, deepened the integration of industries, and allowed the service economy to flourish. During this pandemic, certain services have been widely used: telemedicine, e-learning, sharing platforms, collaboration systems, and cross-border e-commerce, to name just a few. They have played an important part in ensuring economic stability in individual countries and promoting international cooperation against COVID-19. Going forward, open cooperation in the services sector will become an increasingly important driver for development.

Here, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you the following three thoughts and suggestions.

First, let us work together to foster an open and inclusive environment for cooperation. A review of human history shows that the world economy thrives in openness and withers in seclusion. The services sector is unique as it is asset-light but heavy in soft factors of production. As such, it requires, more than other sectors, an open, transparent, inclusive and non-discriminatory environment for businesses to grow. It calls for the concerted efforts of all countries to reduce border and behind-the-border barriers constraining the flow of production factors and promote cross-border connectivity. China will remain steadfast in opening up wider to the world. We will continue to work on a negative list system for managing cross-border services trade. We will develop open platforms for the pilot program of innovative development of the services sector. We will further ease market access for the services sector, and will take greater initiative to increase imports of quality services. To meet the actual needs for growing trade in services, China will promote greater harmonization of rules for the services sector at the multilateral and regional levels, and work for continued improvement in global economic governance and more inclusive growth of the world economy.

Second, let us work together to unleash the power of innovation in driving cooperation forward. We need to adapt to the trend towards digital-driven, Internet-based and smart growth, jointly eliminate the "digital divide", and advance digitalization of trade in services. China will continue to build bases for featured services export and develop new business forms and models in services trade. China will work with other countries to enhance macro policy coordination, accelerate international cooperation in the digital sector, step up intellectual property protection, and facilitate the vibrant growth of the digital economy and sharing economy. Such efforts will generate renewed dynamism for the world economy.

Third, let us work together to promote mutually beneficial cooperation. In this age of economic globalization, countries share economic interdependency and intertwined interests like never before. To treat each other with sincerity and pursue shared benefits holds the key to state-to-state relations in today's world. Countries need to forge greater synergy in growing their trade in services, seek new ways and more areas of cooperation, and look for the widest possible converging interests in development so as to make the "pie" bigger and bigger. China will make full use of CIFTIS and other platforms such as the China International Import Expo to promote policy exchange and experience-sharing, and foster diverse partnerships with foreign governments, international organizations, business associations and enterprises. China supports the establishment of a global alliance for trade in services. We hope to see more fruits from our practical cooperation so that people in different countries will all benefit from a growing trade in services.

To better leverage Beijing's role in spearheading the opening-up of China's services sector, we will support the municipality in developing a national integrated demonstration zone for greater openness in the services sector. It will enable Beijing to take bigger, bolder steps as a trailblazer and gain more experience that would be replicable and scalable. We will also support Beijing in setting up a pilot free trade zone characterizing scientific and technological innovation, opening-up of the services sector, and digital economy. It will serve as a platform of high-standard opening-up for the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, and open up new horizons for reform and opening-up at a higher level.

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. Nor will it affect our confidence and action as we pursue shared progress and mutually beneficial cooperation. Let us pull together and strengthen our resolve to get over this difficult period for mankind. Let us move to embrace a better tomorrow for the world.

By H.E. Xi Jinping
President of the People's Republic of China


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