China will energetically develop its service outsourcing business to further tap into the international market to boost the industry's share in foreign trade, Premier Wen Jiabao said on Monday.
Wen made the remarks at the opening of the first China Beijing International Fair for Trade in Services. The event, organized by the Ministry of Commerce and the Beijing municipal government, provides a platform for trade in services.
"China will further promote the proportion of service trade in its overall foreign trade, encouraging exports of high-qualified services, including those in software, culture and construction," said Wen.
China is the world's second-largest service outsourcing base, following India. China's service industry is poised to embrace promising prospects alongside the fast growth of the global service outsourcing market, which is expanding at an annual rate of 20 to 30 percent, and whose scale has reached $500 billion.
Wen said that developed economies should open up their service markets to the competitive services of developing economies.
China's foreign trade has been enjoying double-digit growth over the past decade, benefiting from exports from labor-intensive manufacturers.
However, due to sluggish demand in the United States and Europe and increasing domestic labor costs, China is targeting exports of products with high added value as its new growth point.
Closely related with the real economy, which mainly pertains to manufacturing, the trade in services in communications, information, finance, culture and consultation is expected to improve the added value of Chinese-made products.
"The balanced development of the modern service and manufacturing industries is the long-term strategy for China," Wen said.
Commerce Minister Chen Deming said that as urbanization accelerates, the Chinese people will have a stronger demand for healthcare, financial and travel services, promoting domestic consumption and generating huge business opportunities both at home and abroad.
According to Chen, China is expected to become the world's largest consumer market by 2015, having total consumer retail sales surpassing $5 trillion.
"China's rising demand for service imports will help drive the development of the economy in the overseas market and promote the employment rate," Chen said.
China's service imports will surpass $1.25 trillion over the next five years, Wen said.
Last year, China's service industry made imports totaling $237 billion, a 23.7-percent growth year-on-year.
China ranks fourth in the world in service trade volume, totaling $419.1 billion last year, compared with $66 billion in 2000.
By 2015, China's service trade value will reach $600 billion, or 47 percent of its GDP, up from the current figure of 43 percent.