China will reduce foreign investment curbs, says commerce minister
FDI rises 3% to $135b. in 2018, slowing from 7.9% in 2017
SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) – China will reduce restrictions on foreign investment and address difficulties facing foreign companies investing in the country, the commerce minister said, according to a transcript of an interview he gave to state media.
Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said that China would allow full foreign ownership of companies in more areas of the economy and would reduce the number of industries where foreign investment was restricted or barred, according to the transcript posted on the Ministry of Commerce’s website on Sunday.
The comments appeared to be reiterations of past pledges by Chinese officials for further market openings.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) into China rose by 3% year-on-year to $135 billion in 2018, Zhong said.
That would mark a slowdown from growth rates of 7.9% in 2017 and 4.1% in 2016.
But Zhong said that China had maintained stable FDI growth “against a gloomy global climate,” noting that total FDI around the world had slumped by 41% in the first half of last year.
China has been pushing to broaden opportunities for private firms and foreign investors to stimulate an economy that is slowing amid weakening domestic demand and a trade war with the United States.
Zhong said that handling trade frictions with the US was a major task for the ministry in 2019.
The ministry would “conscientiously implement” the consensus to work toward a resolution of the trade row reached by Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump in Argentina late last year.
The two sides held three days of trade talks at the vice-ministerial level in Beijing last week.
Zhong said the Commerce Ministry would push for the introduction of a foreign investment law as soon as possible, improve the handling of complaints from foreign firms, and encourage foreign investment in manufacturing and high tech.
The ministry would also encourage foreigners to invest in central and western China, he said.
CHINESE COMMERCE MINISTER Zhong Shan addresses a news conference in Beijing, in March.