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Top economic planner: Wider prospects for foreign investment

Lan Lan
Updated: Sep 29,2015 7:14 AM     China Daily

China’s economy remains in good shape and the government will further expand reform and opening-up, officials from eight Chinese government bodies told foreign enterprises and chambers of commerce on Sept 28.

The National Development and Reform Commission, along with seven other agencies including the Ministry of Commerce, held a symposium on Sept 28 to talk with foreign business representatives and hear feedback about China’s investment environment.

Executives from foreign enterprises said President Xi Jinping’s speeches during his state visit to the United States, which frequently mentioned deepening reform and opening-up, were very “encouraging”.

The State Council launched a new guideline last week that said foreign investment is welcomed in mixed-ownership reforms, and pledged to establish a new national market access “negative list” system, which lists which sectors and businesses are off-limits.

Mats Harborn, vice-president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, said the chamber welcomes the government’s moves in transitioning to a negative list model and it noticed that the government has recently made great progress in cutting red tape for administrative approval.

Li Pumin, secretary-general of the NDRC, told foreign companies that the government will step up efforts in improving efficiency and transparency, and further optimizing the investment environment.

According to the NDRC, the number of sectors that China restricted from foreign investment was cut from 79 to 38, while more than 95 percent of projects invested in by foreign capital require only registration, instead of approval.

Harborn added that among the issues of most concern to the chamber are further opportunities for foreign investors to participate in SOE reform and the details of China’s security review system.

Many foreign enterprises have enjoyed China’s rapid growth in the past three decades, which has brought great profits and opportunities, making China the largest or one of the largest markets for many companies, while most of them also expressed hope China’s policies and regulations could be more “sustainable, predictable and transparent”.

Wu Qi, managing partner of Roland Berger, a strategic consulting company, said many foreign investors, particularly those in service industries, have great interest in investing in the Chinese market, while further opening up of these sectors could create more jobs and increase revenues.

However, he also said some of his clients feel uncertain about the changing Chinese economy, and people in different industries have various outlooks on future performance.

Growth of 7 percent this year will still represent a larger increase in value than 7.3 percent growth in 2014 because the economy is larger, Jin Xiandong, an official of the NDRC, told a symposium.

China’s growth is changing from a high speed to a “middle-to-high” speed, but despite slowing down, the economy remains steady, he said.

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