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New areas opened to offshore investors

By Hu Yongqi, Zhang Yue | China Daily | Updated: 2016-12-30 06:09

China is opening more sectors to foreign investment and introducing a slew of measures to invite participation, top officials said.

The State Council's executive meeting on Wednesday chaired by Premier Li Keqiang approved a new guideline to further attract foreign investment and advance China's opening-up.

"We should take measures with great effectiveness in attracting foreign capital," Li stressed.

According to the new guideline, foreign investment access hurdles will be dropped in a number of manufacturing sectors, including rail transportation, motorbikes and ethanol fuels. Foreign capital will have access to fields like energy, water conservancy, environmental protection and utilities via franchise agreements.

"China's economy develops as we continue our opening-up strategy. Besides advanced technology and experience in management, China also needs capital investment from overseas," Li said.

The catalog for industrial access for foreign investors also will be amended to match the new measures.

Foreign capital will be encouraged to enter high-end manufacturing, as well as related services such as industrial design and logistics. Accounting and auditing, architecture design and rating services will be open to foreign investment for the first time.

Foreign funded firms will be cleared to join the national science and technology program as equals to domestic firms, and enjoy favorable policies designed for the "Made in China 2025" strategy.

The guideline emphasizes equal treatment for foreign investors, and no additional restrictions are allowed.

Li said that government at all levels should further streamline their administration to reinforce the implementation of existing policies in attracting foreign investment and reduce institutional costs.

The new guideline highlights consistency in policies designed to attract foreign investment. Better protection of intellectual property rights for investors is also covered.

The government will work to make it easier for foreign investors and experts to live and work in China. Foreign investment in the "encouraged categories" in central and western areas will receive financing, land and taxation incentives.

Li has reiterated the importance of foreign investment this year. When addressing the UN General Assembly in New York in September, he vowed that China will carry out a new round of opening-up.

Foreign investment is vital for China's economic transformation and structural adjustment, said Chen Fengying, a researcher in global economy at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.

"Multinational companies are facing competition from Chinese rival enterprises and rising costs of labor, but the market potential of Chinese consumers and China's advantage in educated talent still attract overseas investors," Chen said.

China, which now is encouraging foreign investments to move into high-end, low carbon and sustainable industries, can improve the business environment and lower market access barriers by introducing negative lists and granting multinational companies national treatment, which may maintain its attractiveness, Chen added. Negative lists include only those activities that are off limits in a sector, and all other activities are considered open.

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