International

China Commerce Minister: Market Access For Foreign Investors To Widen

Amid the back-and-forth of a global trade war, illustrated perhaps most keenly between China and the United States, China will seek to boost market access, which the country’s Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said Monday via published comments. The minister’s remarks were carried in the state-run People’s Daily.

Reuters noted Zhong stated that globalization of economics, that is remains irreversible, and China, as the newswire reported, “will continue to defend the global multilateral trading system.”

The remarks come as China, late last week, formalized a series of initiatives aimed at relaxing restrictions on foreign investments on a series of industries, as far-flung as banking and agriculture. Global Times reported that the initiatives are examples of China “moving to fulfill its promise for greater market access.”  That comes against the backdrop of China boosting its goods and services access in the last few years. Zhong’s missive stated that “the country’s market access for foreign capital continues to ease, and efforts for the protection of intellectual property rights continue to strengthen.” Illustrative of that trend, said the minister, is the fact that accumulated imports were $20 trillion of goods and $3.7 trillion in services.

By way of background, and as noted in this space late last year, in some overtures germane to the financial markets, Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said foreign stakes in financial companies can increase upon the official lifting of caps, eyeing eventual elimination. Those movements are geared to letting foreign investors take significant stakes in (and perhaps even control) asset management firms and insurance firms upon reaching a threshold of at least 51 percent.

Even as China is making moves for access, the U.S. has been reshaping its own policies. As reported last week, the White House has said it will not block companies with at least 25 percent Chinese ownership from buying some tech firms here. In tandem with that approach, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has said the U.S. can block firms from forming joint ventures overseas, depending on the technology at stake. Those policies are less restrictive than some observers had anticipated.

More recently, the latest salvos from China offered up a “negative list” that National Development and Reform Commission has said is subject to limits on such investments. And the list, per Global Times, has been winnowed to 48 from 63. Free trade zone industries, the government has said in recent days, include telecom, mining and agriculture.

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