Key meeting stresses all-round opening-up

Updated 2017-12-22 09:30:28 Global Times

China will push forward a new pattern of all-round opening-up to pursue mutual benefits with the rest of the world, said a statement released after the Central Economic Work Conference, which concluded on Wednesday.

The annual economic meeting, held behind closed doors from Monday to Wednesday, reviewed the economic work of the past five years and set policy priorities for 2018.

The negative list will become shorter and shorter, it said, adding that the country will improve laws and regulations for foreign investment and enhance protection of intellectual property rights.

An increasingly open market is not only a requirement of China's reform, but also a prerequisite for China to reach more free trade agreements, Bai Ming, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times.

The opening-up will play a significant role for China to cooperate with countries that have a trade deficit with China, such as Canada and the US, Bai said. But he said it is difficult to predict the results of the Sino-US trade negotiations.

However, although the Chinese leadership has stressed the importance of opening-up, it will take time for the trade and investment situations to change, Huo Jianguo, vice chairman of the China Society for WTO Studies, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Promoting opening-up is a gradual process, he said, and only by shortening the negative list and improving the business environment can China increase foreign investors' confidence.

High-level opening-up is also a priority for furthering China's free trade agreement negotiations with other countries, Huo said, noting that the move to cut import tariffs on some products is a good example of the new round of opening-up.

Gao Feng, spokesman for China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), told a regular press briefing on Thursday that restrictions on market entry will be reduced in an orderly manner.

"We will deepen the opening-up of the manufacturing sector, accelerate the opening-up of the producer services sector and promote financial market opening-up in a positive and steady way," he said.

Pilot free trade zones focused on systematic innovation will be given the right to self-determined reform and to carry out trials to the largest extent, according to Gao.

"China will strive to implement the negative list system across the country in 2018, and will explore a dynamic adjustment and information disclosure mechanism for the list," he said.

China has taken a series of measures to open up its market in recent years, which contributed to the sharp rise of foreign direct investment in November.

The figure soared 90.7 percent year-on-year to 124.92 billion yuan ( billion) in the month, MOFCOM data showed.

Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said in November that China will allow foreign firms to own stakes of up to 51 percent (up from the current 49 percent) in securities, fund or futures companies they have invested in, whether directly or indirectly, in China.

Three years after the new rule became effective, the country will completely scrap the ownership limits, he said.

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