China’s pro-foreign investment measures boost market appeal

China’s pro-foreign investment measures boost market appeal

Updated: March 21, 2024 13:54 Xinhua 

BEIJING, March 21 — China has announced a new set of measures aimed at enhancing the appeal and effective utilization of foreign investment, as part of the country’s efforts to harness and share its huge market potential.

An action plan comprising 24 specific pro-foreign investment measures was unveiled Tuesday by the State Council, China’s cabinet, with targeted measures to expand market access, enhance appeal to foreign investment, foster a level playing field, facilitate the flow of innovation factors, as well as better align domestic rules with high-standard international economic and trade rules.

The country will shorten its negative list for foreign investment reasonably, and launch pilot programs to relax foreign entry thresholds in scientific and technological innovation, according to the action plan.

China will also expand access for foreign financial institutions to the banking and insurance sector and increase the scope of their participation in the domestic bond market.

Last year, the State Council also introduced a raft of measures to optimize the investment environment for overseas firms. A recent evaluation of the measures showed that over 60 percent of the policies have been implemented or achieved notable progress, with more than 90 percent of the surveyed foreign firms giving a positive review.

The launch of the new policy package to attract foreign investment came after the foreign direct investment in the Chinese mainland in actual use dropped 8 percent year on year in yuan terms.

Wu Hao, secretary general of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China’s top economic planner, said fluctuations in cross-border investment are natural, noting that China still enjoys significant advantages and broad space for attracting foreign investment.

“China is a super-large market with the greatest growth potential in the world, and will continue to unleash huge demand in advanced manufacturing, new urbanization and consumption upgrading,” Wu said.

Official data showed that in January, 4,588 new foreign-invested firms were established across the country, up 74.4 percent year on year.

“The Chinese market is too huge to be missed, and we are always upbeat on the vitality of China’s development,” said Henry Tan, vice chairman and CEO of Luen Thai Group.

The Chinese business of global sportswear brand Skechers, run by Luen Thai Group, saw double-digit sales growth in 2023, with its retail outlets exceeding 3,500 across the country.

“We will continue to up our investment in China this year,” Tan said. Skechers plans to open 550 new outlets in China this year.

Dr. Holger Scherr, president and CEO of Beijing Foton Daimler Automotive Co. Ltd., and head of the Mercedes-Benz business unit, said the company remains optimistic about China’s economic growth despite global economic uncertainties.

“In the long term, the substantial market capacity, demand for high-end heavy-duty truck products, and technological innovation will provide us with enduring market opportunities,” he said.

According to Fan Yuelong, director in charge of brand and marketing at Deloitte China, abundant opportunities remain for foreign firms to capitalize on in China due to the uneven regional development.

The central and western regions and northeast of China enjoy an improving development environment with abundant resources, a broad market and sufficient talents, said Hua Zhong, director of the NDRC’s foreign capital and overseas investment department.

China has started revising the industry catalog of sectors encouraging foreign investment, and the revision of the sub-catalog for the central and western regions will increase support for basic manufacturing, applicable technologies and consumption related to people’s livelihood in light of local conditions, according to Hua.

“We welcome global multinational companies to pay more attention to these regions and expand their business presence there,” Hua said.