BEIJING -- China unveiled late Thursday a long-anticipated
easing of foreign investment curbs in the auto industry and other key sectors
as Beijing moves to open its markets further.
China's National Development and Reform Commission published
on its website a new version of the so-called negative list, which sets out
industries where foreign investment is limited or prohibited, that will take
effect July 28.
In addition to confirming already announced pledges to fully
remove ownership limits on industries such car and light-truck production
within the next three to five years, China is also easing or removing ownership
caps on businesses including ship and aircraft manufacturing and power grids.
The policy enacted two decades ago capped foreign investment
at 50 percent, helping local brands develop manufacturing expertise while still
profiting from sales of foreign marques.
The announcement comes amid increasing scrutiny from China's
top trading partners including the United States and the European Union that
have criticized the imbalance in market access. They have argued that Chinese
companies have been largely allowed to invest freely in their markets while
China limits foreign companies' ability to enter the world's second-largest
Since China, the world¡¯s biggest new-vehicle market,
disclosed plans last spring to remove caps on local auto joint ventures,
leading global automakers such as General Motors, Volkswagen Group, Daimler,
BMW Group and Ford Motor Co. have indicated they plan no major changes under
partnerships with local companies.
In trade talks between a U.S. delegation led by Treasury
Secretary Steven Mnuchin and senior Chinese officials in early May, the Trump
administration officials asked China not to distort trade through investment
restrictions, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters at the time.
China has repeatedly said it will continue market reforms at
its own pace, stressing that it will make and implement decisions on opening
its markets based on its needs and not because of external pressure.
Foreign businesses say progress has been slow and pledges of
wider access have been reiterations of previously announced reforms that are long