China International Fair on Trade in Services

> Pascal Lamy’s speeches


Premier Wen Jiabao,
Minister Chen,
Ladies and Gentlemen,  

Just six months ago, I was here in Beijing celebrating China's tenth anniversary of its accession to the WTO. We were looking at the past. Today, we are looking at the future. At the role that services have in modern economies. We are looking at how China can use services opening to improve its competitiveness, to spur innovation, to move up the value chain.

And it is timely that this event should be held in China, which is already the world's third-largest exporter of commercial services. 

The global economy is being transformed at an unprecedented speed and at the heart of that transformation is the services economy. Globalization would not have been possible without improvements in information and communications technology. Global production networks would not have been formed without cost-effective and reliable transport and logistics services.  Services underpin every part of the production process, from research and development to design, engineering, financing, transportation, distribution and marketing. In short, without services, there would be little value-added and innovation.

In services as well as in manufactures, long gone are the days when we should be thinking about trade as a world of “them” and “us” — their exports and our imports, and vice-versa. This characterization is out of date. All the more so because work on the production of services very often takes place in the importing country. A foreign-established service supplier will generate local employment and revenue.  

For many developed countries, services account for more than 70 per cent of GDP; and in many developing countries, this share has increased to around 50 per cent.  Looking towards the future, this trend is likely to continue as companies seek to inject greater value into their products and services.  Moving up the value chain is vital to remaining profitable and services are key to moving up the value chain. 

For governments, it means that greater emphasis has to be given to the development, hence to the opening, of the service sector. 

 It is high time that we put services at the heart of our trade opening agenda. China, with its desire to move up the value chain, with its plans to rebalance its economy, is uniquely placed to drive an offensive agenda to open trade in services. And the WTO framework remains the best option available to do that. Bilateral or regional approaches can only be a second best if and when a multilateral approach has been genuinely tried and has failed. I count on China to be an engine for an active WTO services agenda.

I wish you every success in your deliberations today. 

Thank you for your attention.


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