China to open-up finance sector by 2020, Premier Li says

China to open-up finance sector by 2020, Premier Li says

02/07/19

Luke Foddy, Communications Manager

China will open-up its financial services sector to foreign-owned companies a year earlier than planned, Premier Li Keqiang said this morning.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Dalian, Li said China will allow majority foreign ownership of domestic securities companies by next year.

“We will move up the lifting of foreign capital limits in securities, futures and life insurance, from 2021 to 2020,” the Premier said.

China will also further open its manufacturing sector, including the auto industry, while reducing its negative investment list that restricts foreign investment in some areas, Reuters reports.

Lack of access to China’s lucrative domestic markets has long been a source of friction among the country’s partners in the WTO, and Li’s comments reflect Beijing’s attempts to improve its global trade relations.

However, this is not the first time China has stated its intention to give foreign firms access to its domestic markets, and the lack of detail offered by Li may leave some businesses sceptical.

Officials had promised a range of measures to liberalise the financial services industry in late 2017 but they were put on hold as the trade war between the US and China intensified, according to the Financial Times.

Chinese state media outlet Xinhua today cited Li as saying the country ‘will become more open, transparent and predictable for foreign investment, and its business environment will further improve’ – comments likely aimed at stemming the relocation of manufacturing and supply chains away from China amid current tensions with the US.

The New York Times described the comments as ‘the Chinese government’s most public effort so far to persuade [businesses] not to move supply chains out of China.’