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Investors to get easier access to preferred sectors – Shanghai Daily (subscription)

CHINA will make it easier for foreign investors’ to access its service and high-end manufacturing sectors, Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng said yesterday.

The finance, education, culture and logistics sectors will be opened wider to foreign capital, and restrictions on high-end manufacturing will be relaxed, he said on the sidelines of the annual parliamentary session.

Foreign investment can help the state-owned enterprises to innovate and upgrade, he said.

China attracted US$126 billion of foreign capital last year, an increase of 5.6 percent from 2014, with service and high-end manufacturing attracting 70 percent of the total.

Foreign investors are shifting their focus, Gao said, describing the phenomenon as a “structural improvement.”

He said he also expects less-developed central and western regions to come to the front of opening up thanks to the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative.

“Those regions boast huge potential as only 16 percent of foreign investment went there in 2015,” he said.

China will seek to guide foreign investment and will build more trans-border economic cooperation zones, the commerce minister said.

The country has been encouraging foreign investment since its reform and opening up more than three decades ago.

President Xi Jinping has said that China will not change its policy stance on foreign enterprises, vowing continued efforts to encourage their presence.

Gao also said that China hopes to achieve bilateral investment treaties with the United States and the European Union as early as possible.

Negotiations with the US began in 2008 and are at a “substantive stage” after 24 rounds of talks. The two sides are discussing a negative list, he said.

Rapid progress has also been made on talks with the EU, Gao said, adding that both treaties will create a favorable environment for China to open wider to the outside world.

China will also accelerate talks with the US and EU on free trade agreements, Gao said.

Such agreements with developed economies are conducive to establishing a high-standard foreign investment mechanism in China, he said.

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