China sets out reforms to financial sector in renewed effort to attract FDI

Beijing today set out a timetable for targeted reforms to its financial sector as part of measures to attract more foreign investment by the end of the year.

Announcing the changes, the governor of the People’s Bank of China, Yi Gang, said the country will allow foreign companies to compete with domestic firms in the financial sector and on a level playing field.

While many of the measures were announced in November last year, today’s statement brings forward several of the key changes. The reduced time frame was announced against the backdrop of deepening concerns in Beijing of a trade war with America, as the Trump administration follows through on its pledge to “get tough” with Chinese imports.

Life insurance companies
China’s government said it was accelerating a reform plan originally announced in November to lift foreign ownership restriction in life insurance companies. Earlier, President Xi had pledged to accelerate the opening up of the insurance sector to foreign ownership.

China says it will raise the ownership limit to 51% by June 2018, and scrap the restriction altogether by 2021. The original timeframe, also set out in November, was for five years.

For the first time China said it would implement a number of the measures by the end of this year. The credit ratings agency Moody’s tentatively welcomed the changes in a statement earlier today: “The greater detail on the timing of implementation may indicate China’s desire to avoid an escalation in trade restrictions and to boost market confidence that the announced measures to open up the market will be adopted in practice.”

Christopher Copper-Ind
Christopher Copper-Ind is Publisher and Editor of International Investment.

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