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China planning new-year boost for national ‘investment environment’

China has announced plans to “improve the investment environment” in 2015, by boosting market access in the service sector and “further opening up manufacturing sectors”.

China’s Central Economic Work Conference (CEWC) said activities to improve the investment climate would draw on experiences from the 29-kilometre China (Shanghai) Free Trade Zone (FTZ), that was set up in 2013, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

Xinhua said: “Inbound overseas investment will be stabilised and higher quality investment sought. “Efficiency and quality of outbound investment will be improved, sectors with competitive edges will be encouraged to go overseas, and the internationalisation of the yuan (renminbi) will be boosted in a steady way.”

According to Xinhua, the CEWC said: “A balance will be struck between domestic and overseas demand, between imports and exports, and between inbound and outbound investment. Balanced international payments should be achieved step by step, and a new open economic mechanism will be built.”

The CEWC’s announcement is the latest in a series of initiatives unveiled by China in recent months aimed at reforming the country’s commercial and economic prospects.

Last month, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) proposed changes to China's Foreign Investment Guidance Catalogue to encourage more foreign companies to invest in the country.

Wang Dong, an NDRC official, told Xinhua that the proposed changes included the greatest number of changes removing restrictions on foreign investment in the catalogue's history. The proposals included reducing the number of sectors that limit foreign investment from 79 to 35, and cutting the number of sectors where Chinese investors must hold a larger share from 44 to 32.

In September, China's State Council (cabinet) decided to temporarily adjust some special administrative measures on foreign investment in certain industries in the FTZ.

According to the cabinet, the FTZ is to be “temporarily exempt from restrictions on foreign investment in businesses like shipping, automobiles, civil aviation and infrastructure development”.

In addition, foreign investors’ stake in a joint venture shipping agency in the FTZ will be allowed to exceed 51%, beyond the existing national regulatory cap of 49%.

A total of 1,016 foreign-funded projects worth $5.4 billion were launched in the FTZ in the first half of this year, according to the Shanghai Commission of Commerce. The number “accounted for nearly half of all foreign-funded projects in the city and nearly 20% of projects launched in the zone”.

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