China to further shorten negative list for foreign investors: top economic planner

The aerial photo taken on Oct. 19, 2019 shows the construction of Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory in progress. Photo by People’s Daily Online

By Bi Mengying, People’s Daily

China would further shorten a negative list on market entry for foreign investors and release a new edition for 2020, said Ning Jizhe, deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China’s top economic planner, at a press conference on May 24.

Over the past three years, the country has eased market access restrictions for foreign investors by reducing the prohibited or restricted items on the negative list from 93 to 40.

Thanks to the further opening up of China’s market and the continuous improvement of investment environment, major foreign investment projects have become a new highlight of China’s utilization of foreign investment in recent years.

A large number of major foreign-invested projects commenced in China last year, attracting worldwide attention. The second phase of Samsung’s memory chip plant in Xi’an, capital of Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province completed building factories, and German chemical giant BASF began construction of its $10 billion integrated petrochemicals project in Zhanjiang, South China’s Guangdong Province. Besides, the Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory, Tesla’s first plant outside the United States with an investment of over $7 billion, broke ground and started production.

Even the novel coronavirus pandemic cannot stop China’s attraction for foreign investors.

BMW Brilliance Automobile Ltd. unveiled a new plant in Shenyang, capital of Northeast China’s Liaoning Province, on April 1, 2020. Three weeks later, ExxonMobil broke ground on its chemical complex in Huizhou, South China’s Guangdong Province, and a special “cloud inauguration ceremony” was held online. These projects have played an important role in China’s efforts to stabilize foreign investment and further open up.

A number of key foreign-funded projects are expected to be launched this year in electronic information, new materials and advanced manufacturing, according to Ning Jizhe.

He also pointed out that under the guidance of the government work report, the NDRC would take firm steps to expand opening-up, ensure stability of foreign investment, industrial chain and supply chain, and make further efforts the following aspects.

The country will work to ensure the implementation of major foreign projects. China has implemented 18 major foreign investment projects in three batches, and a fourth will be launched soon. The country will also expand its reserve of advanced manufacturing, as well as producer and consumer services.

China will further cut negative list for foreign investors, promote further opening-up of such industries as services, manufacturing and agriculture, and encourage free trade zones to lead the way and explore new paths. Restrictions outside the negative list shall not be applied to foreign enterprises.

The country will continue to encourage foreign investments. China will introduce a 2020 edition of catalogue of industries that encourage foreign investment, in which the scope of encouraged industries will be broadened.

This aims to boost high-quality development of the manufacturing sector and allow more foreign investors to enjoy tax and other preferential policies.

China will make continued efforts to improve the business environment for foreign enterprises. The country will establish and improve all kinds of mechanisms for the promotion, protection and management of foreign investment, perfect the service for foreign investors, treat all domestic and foreign enterprises equally and protect the legitimate rights of foreign investors.

Ning said that China would continue to facilitate international travels for foreign projects by opening“green channels”and air charter services, in a bid to accelerate the implementation of these projects.

“Over 1,000 South Korean technicians have recently arrived in China by chartered flights, and they have played a part in the implementation of relevant projects,” he noted.

Ning also urged that foreign chambers of commerce in China to work more closely with foreign enterprises in China, so as to coordinate and help resolve issues enterprises encounter in the resumption of work and production.

Customers visit a newly opened Tesla Service Center in Shanghai on May 9. Photo by Wang Gang/People’s Daily Online

About 500 Tesla Model 3 vehicles are parked at the Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory on Dec. 7, 2019. Photo by People’s Daily Online