Transparency will convince foreign investors of China’s genuine opening-up

By Xiao Xin Source:Global Times Published: 2018/5/24 21:03:41

Pro-foreign investment efforts in progress to offer foreign businesses wider and more transparent access to China's market will effectively address foreign investors' concern over roadblocks in one of their most coveted markets.

In a fresh sign of progress, Tang Wenhong, director of the Department of Foreign Investment Administration of the Ministry of Commerce, told reporters on Thursday that the government is moving to revise two negative lists for foreign investment, one of which is effective nationwide while the other is effective only in pilot free trade zones. The outcome will be announced soon, according to Tang.

Negative list revision efforts are a pivotal component of the country's overall push for reform and opening-up. The negative list approach provides both more leeway as well as clarity for foreign businesses seeking to engage in the Chinese economy. Except for any sectors on the list, all are accessible to foreign investment.

This matters a lot to foreign businesses that are constantly complaining about China's foreign investment climate. With the country pledging to open its market wider to the world, foreign investors have high hopes for opportunities in the world's second-largest economy.

Nonetheless, many of them still have no clear idea about which investment areas are off-limits for foreigners, and they consider this as one of several hidden barriers in the market. The seeds of skepticism have thus been sown over whether they are being treated fairly in China's hugely promising but opaque market.

Four out of five respondents reckon that opportunities outweigh risks for German companies in the Chinese market, German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported on Wednesday, citing a survey of 511 top executives from the worlds of business, politics and administration in Europe. Two-thirds, however, consider it unrealistic that China's market will become as open as Germany's anytime soon.

This shows the discrepancy between China's actual opening-up efforts and the perceived progress the country is making.

In addition to allowing for wider market access, China needs to attract foreign businesses into the market in a more transparent manner.

The revision of the two negative lists is one of many recommended moves to ease investor doubts, and it is to be hoped that more efforts are in the pipeline that will translate China's opening-up into broad recognition of a market-oriented economy.  

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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