China's door opens wider for overseas in 2019, with full ownership likely in some financial sectors: analysts

By Xie Jun Source:Global Times Published: 2019/1/13 20:20:59

Full ownership likely in some financial sectors: experts

An overview of a trade port under construction in Haikou, South China's Hainan Province in September. Photo: VCG

China is looking to open its doors even wider this year to overseas investors by measures such as encouraging foreign companies to set up wholly-owned businesses in more areas and shortening the negative list for overseas investors. 

This year, the central government has expressed its determination to allow the establishment of wholly-owned overseas companies in the services industry and certain financial industries, experts predicted. 

Although details have not yet been announced, the government is to facilitate overseas investment in 2019, according to speeches made by several government officials on different occasions in recent days. 

Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan said on Sunday that in 2019, the ministry will continue to ease market access by further shortening the negative list for China as well as for the free trade zones, while allowing overseas companies to set up wholly-owned business entities in more areas. 

According to the new version of the negative list for overseas investment, released in June 2018, overseas investors can set up wholly-owned businesses in a number of areas including new-energy cars, ships, airplanes and some types of agriculture. 

The ease of management of foreign ownership has attracted some overseas investors to launch wholly-owned businesses in China. US carmaker Tesla, for example, last year set up a wholly-owned subsidiary in Shanghai to mass produce electric cars. 

Tesla's wholly-owned subsidiary in Shanghai is sure to be a model for other overseas companies that eye the Chinese market, experts noted. 

Ye Hang, an economics professor at the College of Economics at Zhejiang University, said that the government is very likely to give full ownership freedom to overseas companies in areas where those companies have an advantage but don't pose monopoly risks, such as architectural design, consulting and supermarkets.  

The government is also likely to allow full ownership for overseas investors in certain financial sectors like funding and securities this year, Xi Junyang, a finance professor at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

Xiao Yuanqi, spokesperson with the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC), said that the CBIRC will study new opening-up measures this year and introduce professional overseas insurance companies into China, the reported on Friday. 

"It's very likely that the government will fully open the domestic markets to overseas capital in the financial sector a little ahead of schedule, as those sectors have become mature in China and there's almost no potential risks in opening up," Xi said. 

Same scale 

But Xi said that overseas capital won't set up wholly-owned enterprises in China just because they are allowed to do so. 

"Higher equity ownership means higher degree of independence, but it won't necessarily bring about business success. Overseas companies will expand their business in China only if they see ample market opportunities," Xi said. China is a hot target for investment capital. In 2018, China used overseas capital of $135 billion, up by 3 percent year-on-year, Zhong said. 

This is against the background of a cooling trend in investment around the world, with global foreign direct investment down 41 percent year-on-year in the first six months last year, compared with a slump of 69 percent in developed countries, Zhong said.

According to Ye, apart from allowing higher equity ownership for overseas companies, the government should also see to it that overseas companies should have the same business scale compared with domestic companies in most cases.
Newspaper headline: Door opens wider for overseas


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