China's service trade maintained robust growth in the first five months of this year as the government has channeled more energy into opening the service sector.
The Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said Thursday that the country's service trade rose 12 percent year-on-year to stand at 2.1 trillion yuan (nearly 320 billion US dollars) in the January-May period.
Service exports increased 13.3 percent to 691.53 billion yuan, while imports gained 11.4 percent to 1.41 trillion yuan, resulting in a deficit of nearly 720 billion yuan.
Trade in services refers to the sale and delivery of intangible products such as transportation, tourism, telecommunications, construction, advertising, computing and accounting.
The MOFCOM said the growth rates hit new highs this year and outpaced the expansion of the goods trade during the same time. China's service trade accounted for 15.3 percent of the total foreign trade in the first five months, up 0.7 percentage point from a year ago.
China has taken steps to improve the development of trade in services, including gradually opening up the finance, education, culture and medical treatment sectors.
Seventeen regions, including Beijing, started to develop a pilot program which will last from July 1 this year to June 30, 2020 and promote innovative development in service trade. The program was first rolled out by the State Council in 2016.
A series of new opening-up measures were piloted in the regions, covering telecommunications, tourism, engineering consulting, finance and legal services.