A view of the central business district in Beijing. (File photo: VCG)
Nation makes great progress as it looks to become a more open economy
China will rev up efforts to bolster high-quality development of trade and two-way investment, which can push opening-up to new heights, senior commerce officials said on Tuesday.
Qian Keming, vice-minister of commerce, said the country has continuously made new progress and breakthroughs in commerce development. The scale and growth rate of China's foreign trade has ranked among the top spots in the world, and the quality of attracting foreign investment has constantly improved, Qian said at the China Forum on Opening and Development.
In the future, China must advance high-quality economic development under conditions of deeper opening-up, Qian said in his opening remarks. The country must develop high-quality trade and two-way investment, and actively participate in the global governance system, he said.
During the forum, the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, the research body affiliated with the Ministry of Commerce, released the 2019 China Opening and Development Report.
The report is the first of its kind to attempt to build a system for evaluating the opening-up level of an economy, and aims to assess China's opening-up endeavors in an objective and fair manner, said Gu Xueming, president of CAITEC.
Citing the report, Gu said China has made great progress in becoming a more open economy, which has created fresh development opportunities for China and the world. The country will continue to push opening-up to higher levels at all fronts, and contribute to global open economy, the report said.
"At a time when protectionism has prevailed, it's crucial to construct a comprehensive and fair system to assess the extent to which a country is opening up," Zhang Wei, deputy president of the think tank, told reporters on the sidelines of the forum. "China has been opening up at all fronts. It's improper to evaluate such efforts based on only one criterion."
China has fully fulfilled the commitments since its entry to World Trade Organization, and based on that it has been continuing to open up wider on its own agenda, Zhang said, citing the finance sector as an example.
Yi Xiaozhun, deputy director general of the WTO, said the world welcomes a new round of reform and opening-up measures by the Chinese government, including setting up more free trade pilot zones, further reducing tariffs, liberalizing services sectors, and hosting the annual China International Import Expo.
"All these ongoing and renewed efforts clearly demonstrate China's strong resolve to remain open against a high tide of protectionism," Yi said. "This will help restore and further build the confidence of the international community."
He said he has high hopes for China to further advance its reform and opening-up effort to new heights.
Also on Tuesday, Vice-Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen stressed that the government will support foreign investment in new areas of liberalization. Continuous efforts will be made to further shorten the nationwide and pilot free trade zone's negative lists for the access of foreign investment and eliminate all restrictive measures that are not included in the negative lists.
His remarks came after the Opinions on Further Improving the Utilization of Foreign Investment was adopted in principle at the State Council executive meeting held on Oct 16 and will be issued soon.
"We will move faster to further open up the financial industry, eliminate all restrictions on the scope of business for foreign banks, securities companies and fund management companies in China, and remove the requirement on total assets for the establishment of foreign-funded banks," he said at a news conference held by the State Council Information Office in Beijing.
According to the ministry, policies on foreign investment in the automotive industry will be fine-tuned to ensure equal market access for domestic and foreign automobile enterprises in manufacturing of new energy vehicles. The measures for the "Parallel Credit Administration" will be revised to allow the transfer of credits between complete vehicle manufacturers invested by multinational companies in China.
In term of deepening reform in investment facilitation, Ye Wei, deputy director-general of the Ministry of Commerce's department of foreign investment administration, said for global investors, the cost of using cross-border capital will be lowered. They are encouraged to choose their own way of borrowing foreign debt on a voluntary basis and devote their capital to domestic equity investment according to law.
In addition to building factories and research centers, global companies have already diversified their investment path in China. Swiss industrial conglomerate ABB Group announced on Monday that it will acquire a majority stake of 67 percent in Shanghai Chargedot New Energy Technology Co Ltd, a Chinese e-mobility solution provider.
"This investment is a further demonstration of ABB's commitment to enabling sustainable mobility," said Tarak Mehta, president of ABB's electrification business. "With China forging ahead in the development of a comprehensive e-mobility ecosystem, this acquisition will give ABB a significant role in delivering growth, working closely with SAIC and other leading Chinese car manufacturers."
The transaction is expected to be completed in the coming months, and ABB has the possibility to increase its stake further in the next three years.