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Digital Trade on the Rise in China

According to a report, China is moving steadily toward front-runner status in the development of digital trade, fueled by the booming internet use, and the emergence of big data, cloud computing and other new technologies. China is now among the world’s top 10 countries for digital trade after years of consistent development in digital technologies. The country has ranked first in the globe in terms of total cross-border e-commerce retail export value as well.

The report, published by the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation (CAITEC), the Ministry of Commerce, states that digital trade mainly encompasses digitally enabled transactions of trade in goods, services as well as data factors. It helps promote the transformation of global industrial, supply and value chains and improve efficiency in the production and operation of enterprises.

COVID-19 necessitated a rapid development of new forms of digital businesses such as online meetings, telecommuting, e-commerce, mobile payments, cloud services, online games and online healthcare services in China. The pandemic accelerated the pace of change in digital technology to provide solutions for society. Emerging digital technology solutions and digital trade will drive the digital transformation of traditional sectors, including construction and transportation, and inject new impetus into economic recovery.

Besides the significant improvement in digital technology, more efforts are also needed to gain a competitive edge. China should accelerate the building of a digital trade platform system, open up wider to the outside world, help expand the overseas market and improve data governance and free flow of cross-border data.

Data from the Ministry of Commerce showed the volume of China’s import and export digital trade surged 6.7% to $203.6 billion in 2019, accounting for 26% of the country’s total import and export service trade volume.

CAITEC says that embracing a new round of global technological revolution and industrial transformation accelerated transformation in cross-border e-commerce and other types of trade. With the rapid development of new forms of digital services such as digital content, search engines, social media, cloud computing and digital payments, digital trade has become the frontier of international cooperation and competition.

China, the world’s second-largest economy, has been ramping up efforts to grasp the new growth opportunities in those new types of technology-driven businesses. China’s digital trade has maintained strong momentum in recent years. However, China still lags behind developed countries in terms of core competitiveness, internationalisation level and digital governance.

China needs to make a big push to strengthen the top-level design of digital trade development, and actively participate in the negotiation and formulation of international rules and make breakthroughs in key digital technologies. The digital economy is gradually becoming the key driver of China’s economic development as new technologies and the government’s supportive policies continue to develop.

Moreover, China urges scientific and technological innovation by holding the 18th meeting of the national leading group on reform of the scientific and technological system and building of an innovation system in Beijing, as reported by OpenGov Asia.

Stressing the core position of innovation in China’s modernisation drive, they called for a thorough understanding of the key role of scientific and technological innovation in high-quality development and the new development paradigm. Member units of the group and related departments should take solid steps in advancing scientific and technological innovation over the next five years to help China become a leading innovation-driven nation and embark on a new journey toward a modern socialist country.

Technology and innovation have become the driving forces. As an emerging tech giant, China has demonstrated it can be a leading innovator both globally and domestically. China is leading the development of new industries built around digitalisation, artificial intelligence, big data, fifth-generation telecommunications networking (5G), nanotechnology, biotechnology, robotics, and quantum computing.

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