China vows to sort out US trade tiff this year


China vows to sort out US trade tiff this year
FDI into China rose by only 3 per cent year-on-year to $135 billion in 2018.

Beijing - Beijing to also reduce curbs on foreign investment

By AFP, Reuters

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Published: Sun 13 Jan 2019, 7:28 PM

Last updated: Sun 13 Jan 2019, 9:29 PM

China will work to straighten out trade frictions with the US this year, the country's commerce minister told state media, following talks with US negotiators this week.
A large US delegation ended a three-day visit to Beijing on Wednesday in the first face-to-face trade talks since President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping in December pledged a three-month truce in the escalating tariff spat.
China said the talks had "laid the foundation" to resolve mutual concerns on trade.
"We will properly handle the China-US economic and trade frictions" this year, commerce minister Zhong Shan said, according to a Saturday report by state media outlet Xinhua.
Zhong said Beijing will also promote outside investment, work to pass a foreign investment law and improve its dispute resolution system, Xinhua reported.
China's policymakers have long promised a more open and free market with better protections for foreign investors, but officials have been slow to make good on those pledges - leading the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China to coin the term "promise fatigue".
Zhong said China's negative list - which restricts investment in certain industries - will be further slimmed down, while Beijing also intends to expand economic sectors open for foreign investment without the need for a Chinese joint-venture partner.
The minister specifically outlined a push for foreign investment in manufacturing, high-tech industries and investment in China's inner regions - pledges which are similar to promises made last year. Pushing Beijing to implement economic reforms and further open up areas for US investment is a focus in trade negotiations with Washington.
China will reduce restrictions on foreign investment and address difficulties facing foreign companies investing in the country, the commerce minister said, according to a transcript of an interview he gave to state media.
Beijing to reduce curbs on foreign investment
Meanwhile, Shan said China would allow full foreign ownership of companies in more areas of the economy and would reduce the number of industries in which foreign investment was restricted or barred, according to the transcript posted on the Ministry of Commerce's website on Sunday.
The comments appeared to be largely reiterations of past pledges by Chinese officials for further market opening.
Foreign direct investment into China rose by 3 per cent year-on-year to $135 billion in 2018, Zhong said. That would mark a slowdown from growth rates of 7.9 per cent in 2017 and 4.1 per cent in 2016. But Zhong said China had maintained stable FDI growth "against a gloomy global climate", noting that total FDI around the world had slumped by 41 per cent in the first half of last year.
China has been pushing to broaden opportunities for private firms and foreign investors to stimulate an economy that is slowing on the back of weakening domestic demand and a trade war with the US.
Zhong said the Commerce Ministry would push for the introduction of a foreign investment law as soon as possible, improve the handling of complaints from foreign firms, and encourage foreign investment in manufacturing and high tech.
The ministry would also encourage foreigners to invest in central and western China, he said.

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