New opening measures launched

Updated 2018-04-18 10:44:17

Rules eased for autos, shipbuilding, aircraft

Following through on earlier promises made by President Xi Jinping, China on Tuesday announced a slew of measures to further open up the country's manufacturing industry, focusing on the automobile, shipbuilding and aircraft sectors.

In a statement on Tuesday, China's top economic planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), announced major changes in a forthcoming new negative list for foreign investment in China, saying the new list will "greatly" ease restrictions.

With the new list, China will lift the current restrictions for foreign investors in a wide range of sectors, including finance, automobiles, energy, resources, infrastructure and transportation, according to the statement.

The new negative list will be released in the first half of 2018, it said, adding that the moves are following up on an April 10 speech by Xi at the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia's annual meeting in South China's Hainan Province, in which Xi announced major opening-up measures.

Among the changes, the NDRC highlighted plans to phase out the share-holding limit for foreign investors in the automobile, shipbuilding and aircraft manufacturing sectors. Foreign investors are currently limited to a minority stake in a joint venture (JV) with Chinese partners in the three sectors.

According to the statement, China will scrap the limits on foreign stakes in special-purpose vehicle JVs and new-energy vehicle JVs in 2018, in commercial vehicle JVs by 2020 and in passenger vehicle JVs by 2022.

The limit for foreign carmakers to simultaneously have two JVs will also be canceled in 2022.

The shareholding limit for foreign investors in the shipbuilding and aircraft manufacturing sectors will also be scrapped in 2018.

"China fully opening its manufacturing sector reflects our stance against trade and investment protectionism and clear-cut support for further deepening of economic globalization," the NDRC statement said.

"We also hope that through fully open manufacturing, Chinese and foreign companies can achieve shared development in a fair competitive environment," it read.

Positive response

The new measures received a positive response from domestic and foreign companies.

"We welcome China's commitment to further opening-up and reforms," BMW Group said in a statement it sent to the Global Times on Tuesday.

"We believe a freer and more flexible business environment will benefit both Chinese and foreign companies in China and the Chinese economy," BMW said.

"With China expanding its reform and opening-up, Boeing will continue to broaden and deepen its partnership with China's aviation industry to jointly make greater progress," U.S. aviation giant Boeing said in a statement sent to the Global Times.

German carmaker Volkswagen Group also said that it strongly supports and welcomes China's further moves in its reform and opening-up strategy.

"Volkswagen Group China will continue to work together with our partners to develop our joint ventures, support the sustainable development of the Chinese automotive industry, and provide Chinese consumers with excellent products and services," it said in a statement.

Shen Haiyin, CEO of Beijing-based Chinese new-energy vehicle start-up Singulato, told the Global Times on Tuesday that the opening of the sector could help boost the domestic industry's competitiveness.

"Undoubtedly, internationally famous automakers such as Tesla will expand their presence in China at a faster pace. But Chinese automakers' competitiveness can be further improved by contending with their international peers in the same market," Shen said.

"Without opening-up, China's automobile industry can never grow," he said.

"We are also very competitive and are prepared to compete," Shen noted.

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