China Daily reports today that China “will further open up its services sector by expanding a pilot program for innovative development of trade in services.”  The decision was taken yesterday at an executive meeting of China’s State Council, chaired by Premier Li Keqiang.

As a result of this decision, a pilot program will be implemented in “17 areas, including Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen”, from July 1 to June 30, 2020.

A “series of opening-up measures” is set to include the legal services sector, where “access measures for trade in services on cross-border delivery and overseas consumption will be explored and refined. Restrictions will be gradually lifted or eased, and customs clearance and visa arrangements will be streamlined for freer flow of goods and people.”

Li told China Daily that: “Developing services trade is instrumental in transforming China’s development model and achieving high-quality development. The services sector is still an area of weakness in our country’s overall development.”

He “emphasized the need to ‘make trade in services a new highlight in China’s opening-up and development’”, the report concluded.

Reacting to the news, Matt Murphy, Partner in Beijing-based law firm MMLC Group told Asia Law Portal: “It was always thought that China would open up its legal market to foreign firms once Chinese lawyers and Chinese law firms had upskilled and were competitive. Today, many local Chinese firms rival international firms in terms of quality and outcomes. Hence, the timing for this increased opening up is probably about right from a strategic perspective.”

Posted by John Grimley

John Grimley edits and publishes Asia Law Portal. An independent writer & editor, he's the author of: A Comprehensive Guide to the Asia-Pacific Legal Markets (Ark Group 2014).

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