China opens banking industry wider to foreign banks
( 2003-12-01 16:33) (Xinhua)
China began on Monday to allow foreign banks to provide RMB yuan services for Chinese enterprises in certain regions, a move highlighted by the country's top banking regulator as "a historical step toward opening of banking industry".
Previously, RMB business was permitted only for foreign enterprises and individuals as well as Hong Kong and Macao compatriots.
Foreign banks will have new and numerous opportunities for local currency business in regions where they are permitted to conduct RMB business, announced Liu Mingkang, chairman of the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC), at a press conference held in Beijing Monday by the Information Office of the State Council.
Four more Chinese cities namely Jinan, Fuzhou, Chengdu, and Chongqing, were added to the list of cities allowing foreign banks to handle RMB business on Monday, he said.
The nine cities previously designated for foreign banks RMB business were Shanghai, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Dalian, Guangzhou, Zhuhai, Qingdao, Nanjing and Wuhan.
According to Liu, the CBRC is now engaged in revising the Implementing Rules for the Regulations of the People's Republic of China on Foreign-funded Financial Institutions, which means that the minimum operating capital requirements will be lowered for foreign bank branches, locally incorporated foreign-owned banks and Sino-foreign joint venture banks.
Liu vowed to further streamline the procedures and processes for market entry approval for foreign banks.
On the equity share of a joint bank, he announced that a single foreign investor can hold 20 per cent of shares of a joint bank, up from the previous 15 per cent.
And so long as the equity share of the total foreign investment in a financial institution is lower than 25 per cent, the nature and business scope of the targeted institution remain unchanged.
Liu Mingkang referred to the auto financing companies (AFCs) as a new type of non-bank financial institutions in China specializing in auto loan business and related financial services.
The CBRC has received and is reviewing applications from GMAC- SAIC Automotive Finance Company, Ltd., Volkswagen Financial Services (China) Co., Ltd., and Toyota Automotive Financial (China) Co., Ltd., according to Liu.
The Administrative Rules Governing the Auto Financing Company, promulgated by the CBRC in early October, signifies China's efforts to honor its WTO commitments and to regulate auto financing activities, which has great significance for China's auto financing market, he said.
The opening up of China's banking sector has been carried out in pace with the overall economic reforms, starting in special economic zones then rolling out to coastal areas, inland provincial capitals and finally the whole country, and extending from foreign currency to local currency businesses.
There are now no more geographic and customer restrictions on foreign exchange businesses of foreign banks, while the geographic restrictions on RMB businesses of foreign banks are also being removed gradually.
Since the start of this year, the CBRC has altogether approved the establishment of 28 foreign bank representative offices, 12 foreign bank branches and six foreign bank sub-branches, and authorized 48 foreign banks to conduct RMB business.
Liu Mingkang said the CBRC attaches equal importance to strengthening supervision and fostering the opening-up and will strengthen the supervision and regulation over foreign banks in China to help them operate in compliance with laws and regulations and improve risk management and earning capacity.
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