Government to ease restrictions on market access in several areas
China will open its doors wider to foreign investors as the nation looks to achieve high-quality growth, with more policies coming up in areas such as the financial, manufacturing and services sectors, officials said.
The government will reduce restrictions on market access in some key areas in an orderly way, Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng said on Thursday.
He said the ministry will guide provinces and cities involved in economic pilot programs as they revamp regulations to introduce a unified national negative list as scheduled for 2018.
A negative list determines sectors in which foreign participation is prohibited or limited.
Gao said other priorities for the ministry include optimizing the regional distribution of foreign investment and deepening institutional innovation in pilot free trade zones.
These efforts correspond with the goals of reform and opening-up mapped out by this week's just-concluded Central Economic Work Conference. As part of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialist Economy with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era－the new economic concept described by the president－opening-up will be "further expanded in scope and level" and the "concept, structure and layout and system of opening up" will be further expanded, according to the statement.
At the 19th CPC National Congress in October, it was also emphasized that China will not shut its doors to the world and those doors will only open up more and more.
To achieve its economic goals, the nation must stick to the new era thought, the statement said.
"The new economic thought has been gradually formed in the past five years," said Liu Shengjun, an economist at the Financial Reform Institute of China. "The introduction of the Thought means China will prioritize economic reforms in the coming five years."
China's pledge to further promote opening-up comes at a time when it has seen another round of increased foreign direct investment in the last quarter of the year, as it shifts its focus to attract such investment in high-end manufacturing, services and green industries to transform its economy.
Foreign direct investment made by global companies on the Chinese mainland rose by 9.8 percent year-on-year to 803.62 billion yuan ($122 billion) in the first 11 months, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
As China veers toward growth relying on domestic consumption and less on exports, sectors that are able to help the country achieve high-quality growth are expected to benefit from efforts to open up further, experts said.
Feng Yaoxiang, a spokesman for the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, said companies from developed markets have noticed the changing trend and have become more willing to invest in China-based research and development, as well as its science and technology and design sectors.
Granting more market access is expected to bring massive business opportunities for foreign firms eyeing the evolving Chinese economy.
Gordon French, head of Global Banking and Markets for the Asia-Pacific region of HSBC, said greater access helps the company to better deploy its strength.
Jing Shuiyu also contributed to this story.
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