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China Plans to Open Up Economy as Investment Declines

China will allow foreign firms to operate fully-owned subsidiaries, rather than joint ventures, in sectors including rail transportation equipment and motorcycles.

Beijing has pledged to open up more economic sectors to foreign investment, an official statement said, as foreign chambers of commerce complain of a worsening business environment in the country.

China will “unwaveringly insist on the opening-up policy” and “create fair competition environment by treating foreign and domestic funds as the same”, the State Council, China's cabinet, said in a statement on December 29 after a meeting hosted by Premier Li Keqiang.

Foreign direct investment in China is estimated to reach 785 billion yuan (now US$113 billion) this year, China’s Ministry of Commerce said earlier in the week, lower than the total of $135.6 billion last year.

The EU Chamber of Commerce in China has complained of an "unequal investment landscape" in the country and called for it to drop widescale prohibitions on foreign investment.

China will allow foreign firms to operate fully-owned subsidiaries, rather than joint ventures, in sectors including rail transportation equipment and motorcycles, the statement said.

It will also let them enter fields including auditing and architectural design for the first time.

Foreign companies will be given the same treatment as Chinese firms in terms of capital required to set up shops, products purchased by the government, and preferential policies for high-tech enterprises, it added.

Beijing has repeatedly pledged to make its economy more responsive to market forces.

But China ranked 84th globally -- behind Saudi Arabia and Ukraine -- in the World Bank's ease of doing business index for 2016, and second to last in an OECD report on restrictiveness towards foreign investment.

The country is trying to stem capital outflows with its yuan currency falling and its vast foreign exchange reserves dropping eight percent from January to November.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2016

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