Wednesday, 20 March, 2019

China loosens investment rules for foreign firms

Visitors stand in front of private stock trading boards at a private stock market in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia on March 15 Visitors stand in front of private stock trading boards at a private stock market in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia on March 15
Steven Clarke | 17 March, 2019, 02:00

The new law aims to create a more level playing field between domestic and foreign businesses.

At around 9 a.m. Friday, an overwhelming majority of the deputies voted in favor of it at the closing meeting of the second session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC).

Amid mounting fears that foreign media would report news critical of China's one-party political system, the country's authorities have stepped up efforts to crack down on internet freedom around the time of the parliamentary session.

China's number two leader yesterday denied Beijing tells its companies to spy overseas, refuting United States warnings that Chinese technology suppliers might be a security risk.

US President Donald Trump is demanding China to reduce the Dollars 375 billion trade deficit, provide legal protection for intellectual property rights (IPR), technology transfer and more access to American goods to Chinese markets.

China will also amend its intellectual property law and "introduce a punitive damages mechanism to ensure that all infringements will be seriously dealt with", Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told reporters at the end of the parliament's two-week session.

The new Chinese law replaces three foreign capital laws passed during the early years of China's market liberalization - between 1979 and 1990 - and will become the first unified legal standard for foreign investment activities in the country. Furthermore, Li said China will soon announce shorter "negative lists" of sectors where foreign investment is either prohibited or requires special approval. "It doesn't matter what the Chinese government puts on paper". But the new law "doesn't tackle" that problem, she added.

China says the law will improve the openness, transparency and predictability of the investment environment, establish equal treatment for foreign and domestic investors, and bar forced technology transfers - a focal point of trade tensions with the U.S.

Lady who testified against former minister dies mysteriously
Milan chief prosecutor Francesco Greco told Reuters news agency there were "several anomalies" in Ms Fadil's medical records. Later, she said he himself handed her €2,000 ($2,300 at current rates) in cash, telling her: "Don't be offended".

European and American business groups also appear not entirely satisfied with the law's provisions.

The law will go into effect on January 1, 2020.

By the end of 2018, about 960,000 foreign-invested enterprises had been set up in China, with the accumulated foreign direct investment exceeding 2.1 trillion USA dollars. For some, the law seems to have been rushed without considering the opinions of foreign companies.

The new act mandates an antitrust review for mergers and acquisitions.

"What the security audit for foreign investment will look like and what this means in practice for foreign companies is not yet clear", said MERICS expert Drinhausen.

The new law clearly bodes well for foreign investors, especially in terms of market access and equal treatment, said Mario Ohoven, president of the German Association for Small and Medium-sized Businesses.

They endorsed a foreign investment law in the Chinese parliament aimed at appeasing the concerns of trading partners in Washington and elsewhere.

Recently, some ruling party officials, scholars and journalists in Beijing have started to rap Xi's China-centered policies for complicating relations with the USA administration of President Donald Trump and jeopardizing solid economic expansion.

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