Foreign investors to gain more access to China: minister

By Chen Qingqing and Huang Ge Source:Global Times Published: 2016-3-20 23:33:01

More overseas funds wanted for central, western regions

A construction site in Huaian, East China's Jiangsu Province Photo: IC

China will further advance its opening-up by easing restrictions for foreign investors in services sectors such as construction, accounting, design and auditing, an official said Sunday.

The country will also ease access for foreign capital in sectors including banking, insurance and securities, Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng told the China Development Forum 2016 in Beijing.

In addition, foreign investment will be encouraged in areas such as advanced manufacturing, high technology, energy saving and environmental protection, Gao said.

Gao's remarks followed a similar announcement Thursday from the Ministry of Commerce, which said that it would increase access to sectors such as finance, education and culture for foreign investors.

"As the current level of China's opening-up is not that extensive, opening wider to the world is still an important and urgent task for China," Gao said, noting that opening up is a key aspect of the country's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20).

"Encouraging foreign investment in the financial sector does not necessarily mean removing all the limits," said Wang Jun, deputy director of the Department of Information at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges.

Wang told the Global Times Sunday that more specific details of the requirements for foreign investment in the financial market will soon be released.

Apart from being more involved in the reform of China's State-owned enterprises, foreign companies will also play a bigger role in the ongoing supply-side reforms, Wang said. "For example, foreign investors could cooperate with Chinese companies in dealing with 'zombie companies' by providing feasible solutions," he noted.

From east to west

The amount of foreign capital used by the western and middle regions of China currently accounts for only 16 percent of the total foreign capital in the country and China will step up efforts to promote the development and opening-up of these areas, Gao said during the forum.

In the next five years, an increasing number of foreign companies will move from the east and coastal regions to the west and middle part of the country, said Wang.

For example, Southwest China's Sichuan Province has been attracting more and more foreign investors in recent years, which is "a virtuous circle," as the local government is motivated by this to improve the local business environment, such as by providing more comprehensive services, he said.

China is now preparing to release a nationwide negative list approach for foreign investment management, Wang said, noting that competition between provinces in terms of attracting foreign investment will also heat up in the future.

Protection of legal rights

The country will step up efforts to establish rules to secure the legal rights of foreign investors, aiming to provide them with a sound business environment in China, according to Gao.

From the start of 2015, public opinions have been sought on a new law for foreign investment, Gao said, noting that related research has been conducted as well.

The upcoming foreign investment law will provide more clear guidance for foreign investors, and will strike a balance between Chinese private companies and foreign ones, Tian Yun, director of the research center at the China Society of Macroeconomics, told the Global Times on Sunday.

For example, in some regions, local governments have provided preferential policies for foreign investors, which created issues in the past such as labor disputes, he noted. "More unified and transparent standards should be set up, not only for domestic private companies but also for foreign-owned enterprises," Tian said.

Given the global economic slowdown, it is unlikely that all trade disputes can be eliminated, as countries usually protect their own interests, he said. "However, China could strengthen its trade relationship with its strategic trade partners, such as South Korea, Australia and India," Tian noted.

Meanwhile, the central government will support Chinese companies in expanding their investment in global markets and cooperating with foreign countries in sectors like productivity and equipment manufacturing in a bid to optimize the deployment of global resources and industries, according to the minister.

Posted in: Markets, Economy

blog comments powered by Disqus