Updated: 2013-01-22 ( China Daily) -
Service sector has become a growth engine in municipality's economy
Shanghai posted a contraction in total trade for 2012, the first time in three years, with exports falling 1.4 percent, while imports continued to increase at 1 percent, according to a report released by the Shanghai Municipal Statistics Bureau on Monday.
The service sector has become an economic growth engine in the municipality, the bureau said.
Combined trade totaled $437 billion, down 0.2 percent from 2011. The fall in exports to $207 billion was largely attributed to decreased orders for a wide range of consumer goods from the hundreds of thousands of small to medium-sized enterprises in the municipality.
While the trade decrease could possibly hinder Shanghai's bid to be the regional trade hub, economists said the figures faithfully reflect the gathering pace of the city's transformation into a higher value-added service-oriented economy. The service sector, including finance, property, tourism and communications, expanded to 1.2 trillion yuan ($192.8 billion) in 2012, up 10.6 percent from a year before.
On the whole, the service sector contributed to about 60 percent of the city's economy, up from 58 percent in 2011, replacing trade as the main engine of growth, as reflected in the 7.5 percent rise in GDP in the city, which reached 2.01 trillion yuan.
The city government has been focusing its efforts in promoting the service sector with the aim of establishing Shanghai as an international financial center that can rival New York, London and Hong Kong.
"The shipping and financial services industries saw positive growth upon support from various parts of society," said Yan Jun, SMSB chief economic engineer.
The added value of Shanghai's financial industry was 245 billion yuan, up 12.6 percent. The value of transport, warehousing and postal industries in 2012 was 89.5 billion yuan, up 5 percent.
Economists said the service sector will eventually eclipse the trade sector as more and more industrial enterprises move to neighboring regions or farther into the interior provinces, which continue to offer a plentiful supply of land and labor. It's a trend encouraged by the Shanghai government for economic and environmental reasons.
The last time the city saw shrinking foreign trade volume was 2009.
Yan said he regarded the structure of Shanghai's foreign trade as "stable and reasonable".