China's ascendance into a manufacturing colossus has disrupted the global order. Now it plans to do the same in services. Commerce Minister Bo Xilai yesterday said that China last year accounted for only 2.8 per cent of global trade in services, a fraction of the 75 per cent held by developed countries, with the United States, Britain and Germany accounting for 30 per cent. 'We are very backward and must change this,' he told a seminar on world trade in services. 'We must promote our services exports and, as our share rises, play a bigger role in World Trade Organisation negotiations, in fields like insurance, law and accounting. 'China will list trade in services as a priority area in the next round of liberalisation efforts. It is urgent to export more labour, to ease the unemployment at home.' Last year, China sent 540,000 people abroad to work legally, accounting for less than 1 per cent of the global migrant labour market, compared with eight million Filipinos and eight million Mexicans. Millions of others work abroad illegally. Mr Bo said China must learn from India, which had established a global reputation in software with excellent engineers and a high standard of English. 'We have the resources, with three million graduates a year.' He said that almost 60 per cent of China's service sector was open, compared with about 80 per cent in developed countries and 20 to 40 per cent in developing countries. 'For the past 20 years, our foreign investment has been concentrated in manufacturing. We must make services a focus for foreign investment.' Sun Zhenyu, China's ambassador to the WTO, said China's trade in services in 2003 reached more than US$100 billion, ranking ninth globally, with a deficit of US$8.5 billion. The service sector in China accounted for 32 per cent of GDP that year - low by global standards. Mr Sun said China was not globally competitive in services and faced huge challenges in the regulation and management of them. According to the Ministry of Information Industry, China's software industry last year was worth 230 billion yuan, a 2.8-fold growth over 2000. Exports of software products reached US$2.8 billion, from US$400 million in 2000. But China lags far behind India, because of poor protection of intellectual property, a weak legal system and the limited use of English.