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Negative list to be shortened for investors

China Daily Updated: 2021-06-18

China's unwavering efforts to deepen reform and opening-up are set to provide more business opportunities to foreign investors and contribute further to world economic recovery, according to experts and business leaders.

Their comments came after the country's top economic planner announced on Thursday that China will further shorten the negative list for foreign investment this year, as part of ongoing efforts to continuously open its vast domestic market to global investors.

Meng Wei, a spokeswoman for the National Development and Reform Commission, said the country is speeding up the formulation of the negative list for 2021, which will promote opening-up in the service sector in a bid to foster high-quality economic development.

A negative list refers to special administrative measures for the access of foreign investment in certain industries or areas.

"We will open more sectors of the economy on a larger scale and at a deeper level, to develop a new system promoting a higher-standard open economy," Meng said at a news conference in Beijing on Thursday.

The country will continuously support the implementation of major foreign investment projects, especially in sectors such as advanced manufacturing and high-tech, and will encourage foreign investors to participate in the country's high-quality development of manufacturing, new infrastructure construction and innovation-driven growth, she said.

To provide foreign investors with a fairer, more transparent and sound business environment, China will improve post-establishment national treatment for all foreign investors, treating domestic and foreign enterprises equally in accordance with the law in areas such as government procedure, certification and the setting of standards.

Against the backdrop of a sharp decline in global cross-border direct investment, there has been significant growth in foreign investment in China.

The nation's actual use of foreign investment grew 35.4 percent year-on-year to reach 481 billion yuan ($74.78 billion) in the first five months of this year, and had increased by 30.3 percent from the same period in 2019, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

The number of newly established foreign-funded enterprises surged 48.6 percent year-on-year to 18,497, up by 12.4 percent from the same period in 2019.

The country's successful reining in of COVID-19 has made it a safe haven for foreign investment and a growth engine for global economic recovery, according to experts.

Zhang Fei, associate director of the Institute of Foreign Investment of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, attributed the growth in foreign investment in China to factors such as expanding foreign investors' access to more sectors and regions, as reflected in the shortening negative list, and the growing number of pilot programs in pilot free-trade zones, free trade ports and comprehensive pilot zones for the service industry.

With COVID-19 largely under control, efforts by governments at different levels in the nation to support major foreign investment projects and facilitate foreign investors, the implementation of the Foreign Investment Law to protect the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors, and the pursuit of a new dual-circulation development pattern that offers increasing opportunities for foreign-funded enterprises in China, also helped to attract foreign investment, according to Zhang.

Leading executives of multinational companies have also expressed their long-term confidence in China, while speaking highly of the nation's contribution to the global economy.

"China is a major engine for world economic growth. As an important part of the global industry and supply chains, China's market is continuously opening up to the rest of the world," said Leon Wang, executive vice-president of UK-based pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and president of AstraZeneca China.

"This plays a very big role in connecting global markets and sharing opportunities. It also makes China the No 1 destination for investment by many multinationals."

Jiang Wei, president of Bayer Group's China branch, said as the world faces a huge public health crisis, open cooperation is particularly important to every country's success.

"Bayer is very pleased to see how China continues to build a market-oriented and legitimate international business environment, and treats all types of companies equally," he said.

Zheng Yiran contributed to this story.