GENEVA — Trade in services must underpin most national and regional development strategies, as meaningful servicification needs to be a key element in countries’ strategies for modern industrialization, Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said Friday.
In his online speech at the opening of the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services in Beijing on Friday, the UNCTAD chief noted that services represent two thirds of the global economy, more than half of the total employment and a quarter of world trade. He estimated that services are also responsible for two thirds of the total productivity growth in developing countries.
“A services-led structural transformation is today a viable development strategy for many developing countries, and efforts at addressing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic can be a catalyst at setting this transformation in motion,” he said.
Taking ICT (Information and Communications Technology) services and digitization as an example, Kituyi held that services-backed digitization can be instrumental to improving supply and export capacity and therefore enhancing economic resilience and promoting post-pandemic recovery. COVID-19 has, for instance, brought to the world’s tourism sector a loss of at least 1.2 trillion U.S. dollars and 1.5 percent of the global GDP, Kituyi said.
According to UNCTAD estimates, with a 12-month break in international tourism, global losses would amount to 3.3 trillion dollars or 4.2 percent of global GDP.
“But these services would benefit from stronger ICT services and the digitization they enable,” he said.
“China knows better than most countries the critical role the new generation of information technologies can play in epidemic control and prevention, and continuation of industrial production.”
The 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services opened in Beijing on Friday.
It is the first major international economic and trade event held both online and offline by China since the COVID-19 outbreak. Themed “Global Services, Shared Prosperity,” the six-day fair has a comprehensive exhibition area and eight special exhibition areas.
A total of 18,000 enterprises and institutions from 148 countries and regions and about 100,000 people have registered for it.