Oct: China's service trade up 24% but COVID-19 impacts tourism

Tourists in the Forbidden City, also known as the Imperial Palace, Beijing, China, November 30, 2021. (Photo: CFP)

China's service trade sector maintained steady growth in October, despite the country's import and export of travel services reeling under the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, said the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM).

The country's service trade reached 413.97 billion yuan ($64.96 billion) in October, up 24 percent compared to last year, said Shu Jueting, the spokesperson of MOFCOM, at a regular press conference on Thursday.

Compared with the same period in 2019, the services trade fell by 5.4 percent, said Shu. But the exports increased by 26.6 percent because of the country's strict coronavirus containment measures, securing tons of global manufacturing orders inshore. The imports fell by 23.1 percent.

However, from January to October, China's travel services trade decreased 27.7 percent year on year to 631.68 billion yuan, of which exports fell by 39.5 percent, and imports fell by 26.1 percent, said Shu.

China has maintained the zero-COVID strategy since the pandemic started in early 2020. Earlier, Wu Zunyou, the chief epidemiologist of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), had termed the country's zero-COVID policy as the most effective way to contain infectious diseases.

China would have witnessed around 47.8 million cases and about 950,000 casualties if it had an infection rate similar to that of prevailing worldwide, said Wu at a finance and economic conference in Beijing on Sunday.

As the Omicron variant threatens the global supply chains, Shu said the Ministry will continue to "pay close attention" to the emergency.

"In terms of the problems and difficulties that foreign trade companies may encounter, [we will] research policies and measures timely and respond in a scientifical and proper way," added Shu.