China to ease re­stric­tions on for­eign com­pa­nies

For­eign in­vest­ment curbs and dif­fi­cul­ties fac­ing for­eign com­pa­nies in­vest­ing in the coun­try to be ad­dressed

The Star Late Edition - - BR - AN­DREW GALBRAITH TOM DALY

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 China would al­low full for­eign own­er­ship of com­pa­nies in more ar­eas of the econ­omy and would re­duce the num­ber of in­dus­tries in which for­eign in­vest­ment was re­stricted or barred, ac­cord­ing to the tran­script posted on the Min­istry of Com­merce’s web­site yes­ter­day.

The com­ments ap­peared to be largely re­it­er­a­tions of past pledges by Chi­nese of­fi­cials for fur­ther mar­ket open­ing.

For­eign di­rect in­vest­ment (FDI) into China rose by 3 per­cent year-onyear to $135 bil­lion (R1.86 tril­lion) in 2018, Zhong said.

That would mark a slow­down from growth rates of 7.9 per­cent in 2017 and 4.1 per­cent in 2016.

But Zhong said China had main­tained stable FDI growth “against a gloomy global cli­mate,” not­ing that to­tal FDI around the world had slumped by 41 per­cent 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 on the back of weak­en­ing do­mes­tic de­mand and a trade war with the US.

Zhong said “prop­erly 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 coun­ter­part Don­ald Trump in Ar­gentina late last year, he added.

The two sides had held three days of trade talks at a vice-min­is­te­rial level in Bei­jing dur­ing the course of 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, the com­merce min­is­ter said. | Reuters

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