China to promote foreign investment growth

The State Council, China's cabinet, on Wednesday made public a series of measures for ensuring the steady growth of foreign investment.

China should make its foreign investment environment "more law-based, internationalized and convenient" to promote growth and raise the quality of foreign investment, according to a document from the State Council.

"[The country] should continue to reduce market access restrictions for foreign capital," the document said.

It will roll out nationwide a negative list for foreign investment that has been tested in pilot free-trade zones as soon as possible.

China will expand market access to allow foreign capital to enter sectors including new-energy vehicle manufacturing, ship design, aircraft maintenance and railway passenger transportation, the document said.

On July 28, China began to implement a revised foreign investment catalogue, which included a negative list as well as sectors and industries in which the government wants to encourage foreign companies to invest.

The government will also make fiscal and taxation support policies to encourage overseas investors to expand investment and make use of their role in optimizing the service trade structure, the document said.

China encourages multinationals to set up regional headquarters in the country and wants more investment into western areas and old northeastern industrial bases.

The investment environment in national-level development zones will be improved by giving the zones more authority in investment management and raising their ability to provide industrial services, the document said.

Foreigners will find it easier to get work permits as the government aims to facilitate the cross-border flow of professionals.

Before the end of this year, China will release detailed new rules for granting visas to foreign professionals including extending the validity period, the document said.

Efforts should also be stepped up to improve foreign capital-related laws, provide better services to overseas investors and ensure the free outward remittance of their profits.

China will improve the protection of intellectual property rights, raise the competitiveness of the research and development environment and maintain continuity of foreign investment policies, according to the document.

The State Council also assigned the tasks to various government departments, including the top economic planner, the central bank, the customs authority and several ministries.

The document came as foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow dropped slightly 1.2 percent year on year in the first seven months of this year, data from the Ministry of Commerce showed Tuesday.

The drop is not as bad as it looks due to high comparison base.

A report from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said that China received 139 billion U.S. dollars of FDI in 2016, third in the world behind the United States and Britain.

"With China's large market and improving business environment, we are confident of maintaining a relatively high level of foreign investment inflow in the future," said Commerce Minister Zhong Shan.

In the same period, high-tech manufacturing saw FDI rise 8.3 percent and foreign investment in high-tech services surged 16.8 percent. The number of new foreign companies rose 12 percent.

Editor: zhangjunmian