Opening up continues, says premier
2017-03-13, ZHONG NAN

China will further open up its markets to the world through robust engines — including the Belt and Road Initiative and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) — and deepen the outbound investment drive that began a few years ago, Premier Li Keqiang said on March 5.

Addressing deputies to the National People’s Congress (NPC) during his presentation of the annual Government Work Report, Li said China will accelerate the creation of overland economic corridors and maritime cooperation hubs, and will establish cooperative mechanisms for streamlining customs clearance procedures.

The country will deepen international cooperation in industrial capacity, promoting exports of Chinese equipment, technology, standards and services so that China and its partners can draw on each other’s strengths, he said.

“China will uphold multilateral trade as the main channel of international trade and will play an active part in multilateral trade negotiations,” Li said.

He said China is ready to join hands with other countries to fully implement the Protocol to Amend the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and to conclude talks as soon as possible for the RCEP agreement.

To prevent illegal and reckless outbound direct investment activities in overseas markets, the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s top economic planner, will draw up a blacklist to ensure the authenticity of outbound investments and fend off risks brought by excessive capital outflows.

Li said China will ensure that foreign trade continues to register steady growth. The country will also have 11 high-standard pilot free trade zones, from which successful approaches can be expanded to the rest of the country.

Eager to enhance its earning ability, China will improve its import and export policies, expand the coverage of export credit insurance and provide export financing insurance for all insurable large equipment, he said. It will also establish a seed fund to encourage innovative development in the services sector.

Li said China will revise the catalog of industries open to foreign investment, and make service industries, manufacturing and mining more accessible.

Wang Zhile, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation in Beijing, said that structural reform, industrial upgrades and efficient global governance “are practical ways to get the Chinese economy on a stable growth track”.

“In the context of globalization, Chinese and foreign companies are all confronted with similar challenges, and require readjustment and transformation in pursuit of new opportunities,” Wang said.

The Chinese government will encourage foreign-invested companies to be listed, as well as to issue bonds in China, Li told the NPC deputies. And it will allow such companies to take part in national science and technology projects.

Foreign companies will be treated the same as domestic ones when it comes to license applications, standards and government procurement. They will enjoy the same preferential policies under the Made in China 2025 initiative, Li said.

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