China to ease rules for foreign investment


China is working to lower investment barriers for foreign investors by adopting a "negative list" for foreign investment beyond the pilot free trade zone in Shanghai, an official with the country's top economic planner said Tuesday.

China is pushing ahead with a plan to give pre-entry national treatment to prospective foreign investors and to adopt a "negative list" for foreign investment nationwide, Gu Dawei, director of the Department of Foreign Capital and Overseas Investment at the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said when answering a question from the Global Times at a press conference on Tuesday.

China currently uses a negative list approach for foreign investment in its Shanghai free trade zone, which was launched in September 2013. It means that foreign companies are allowed to invest without any restrictions in all areas except those that are on the list. Outside the free trade zone, foreign investment is still subject to stricter restrictions.

On November 4, the NDRC released a revised draft of its foreign investment catalogue, which cut the number of sectors with restrictions on foreign investment to 35 from 79, opening up sectors such as steel, oil refining, paper-making and premium spirits.

The new catalogue also reduced the number of sectors that require companies to have a Chinese majority shareholder to 32 from 44. It also devolved responsibility from the central government to local authorities for approval of foreign investment projects that the government encourages and that are valued at less than $1 billion.

Despite the progress in liberalizing market entry for foreign investors, some foreign firms and business groups still said the revised catalogue fell short of their expectations.

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