BEIJING, Feb. 5 (Xinhua) -- China's service exports witnessed fast expansion in 2017, outpacing the growth of imports for the first time in seven years, data from the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) showed Monday.
The value of service exports gained 10.6 percent to 1.54 trillion yuan (about 240 billion U.S. dollars) last year, while imports increased 5.1 percent to 3.16 trillion yuan, resulting in a 1.62-trillion-yuan deficit, the MOC said in a statement.
In contrast to merchandise trade, trade in services refers to the sale and delivery of intangible products such as transportation, tourism, telecommunications, construction, advertising, computing, and accounting.
The overall volume of service trade maintained a steady growth, rising 6.8 percent from the 2016 level to 4.7 trillion yuan, said the MOC.
Xian Guoyi, head of the ministry's service trade department, attributed the faster growth in exports to China's expanding producer service sector and stronger competitiveness in professional services and emerging services.
In 2017, imports and exports in emerging services surged 11.1 percent, 4.3 percentage points higher than the overall increase.
As part of efforts to create new economic drivers, China has been improving its service sector and rolling out measures to make it more competitive, including gradually opening up the finance, education, culture and medical sectors.
In 2016, ten provinces and cities including Tianjin, Shanghai, Hainan and Shenzhen, as well as five new economic zones were chosen as pilot areas for service trade innovation.
The country has also launched an investment fund of 30 billion yuan last month to guide service trade development and facilitate the transformation of China's foreign trade patterns.