China to accelerate opening-up drive to attract foreign investment: Premier Li
Published: Mar 05, 2023 02:13 PM
A view of Shanghai, China's major financial hub and destination for foreign investment Photo:VCG

A view of Shanghai, China's major financial hub and destination for foreign investment Photo:VCG

China is set to accelerate efforts to attract and utilize more foreign investment, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said in his Government Work Report delivered on Sunday, on behalf of the State Council to the opening meeting of the first session of the 14th National People's Congress, the top legislature. 

"We should expand market access and continue to open up modern services sector. We should ensure national treatment for foreign-funded companies," Li said. 

"We should take active steps to see China join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and accede to other high-standard economic and trade agreements, and steadily expand institutional opening up by proactively adopting relevant rules, regulations, management and standards, Li said.

"We should continue to leverage the role of imports and exports in driving economic growth. We should improve services for foreign-funded companies and facilitate the launch of landmark foreign-funded projects, Li said. 

"With a vast and open market, China is sure to provide even greater business opportunities for foreign companies in China," Li said. 

Premier Li's remarks have sent a clear signal that China will continue  opening-up, and it will stabilize the foreign companies confidence in China, Zhou Mi, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

Zhou added that foreign companies will embrace more opportunities as China optimized its COVID-19 response measures in December, bringing enterprises on cusp of rapid revival after pandemic.

China's inbound foreign direct investment grew for a third consecutive year in 2022, official data showed in January, indicating the country remains an attractive magnet for foreign investment despite the pandemic.

The attraction of China, backed up with its mass consumption market, a strong manufacturing base and an ever improving business environment, was not dampened by COVID, Chinese observers said.

China remains a strategic market for Merlin Entertainments with fantastic growth potential. "We continue to see huge interest amongst Chinese consumers looking for location-based entertainment and short breaks, and are well-placed to capitalize on the continued appetite from consumers to make new magical memories", Merlin Entertainments, operator of Legoland Resorts, told the Global Times.  

"Driven by big data, we have deeply explored the Chinese market demand for high-quality development under the new pattern of dual circulation since entering China in 2014, and we hope to serve more Chinese enterprises expand global market," Lu Jian, president of LinkedIn China told the Global Times on Sunday.  

"Since Chinese government dropped COVID-19 quarantine measures, we have seen many signs of recovery, particularly in the property sector and manufacturing investment", said Lyman Tu, vice president of China and Southeast Asia with German-based Wilo Group. "We expect the Chinese government to further boost the green and low-carbon economy, in which our high energy-efficiency products will have vast opportunities", Tu said.

Those foreign enterprises with cutting-edge technologies will enjoy more advantages as China is actively promoting high-quality economic development, Zhou added. 

China has unveiled a plan to steer its economy toward high-quality development as the country eyes a multi-faceted transition toward new strengths that focus on technologies, standards, brands and services, according to the Xinhua News Agency in February. 

Measures will be taken to implement tangible improvements to the quality and efficiency of economic development, increase the quality and competitiveness of industries continuously, and raise the quality levels of products, projects and services.

China has remained a favored destination for overseas investment, with continued efforts in easing market access, reduced number of negative lists, opening-up of financial sector and improving business environment. 

Items on the negative lists for foreign investment respectively covering the whole country and pilot free trade zones were reduced by 51 percent and 72 percent. The entire manufacturing sector was generally opened up, and opening in finance and other service sectors continue to be enhanced, Premier Li said. 

China has set up 21 free trade pilot zones, and the construction of Hainan Free Trade Port is progressing steadily, Li said.