WITH THE newly launched opening-up policy under China’s “second revolution”, President Xi Jinping announced that the country will broaden market access, expand imports and reduce import tariffs for vehicles and other products this year.
China will work hard to import more products that are competitive and needed by Chinese people, Xi told the Boao Forum for Asia annual conference on Tuesday.
“China does not seek a trade surplus. We have a genuine desire to increase imports and achieve a greater balance in international payments under the current account,” he said.
At the forum in front of many international leaders, Xi outlined his mission to build up “a community with a shared future for mankind” that would make Asia and the world peaceful, tranquil, prosperous, open and beautiful. China will adopt policies to promote high-standard liberalisation and facilitation of trade and investment, and explore the opening of free-trade ports with Chinese characteristics, he said.
Opening up is the key success arising from reforms that began under Deng Xiaoping’s leadership in 1978, he said, adding that “over the last four decades, China has significantly unleashed and enhanced productivity”.
In the second opening-up, under Xi’s watch, China would launch a number of measures to broaden its market access, he said.
China will accelerate the opening-up of the insurance industry, ease restrictions on the establishment of foreign financial institutions in China and expand their business scope, as well as open up more areas of cooperation between Chinese and foreign financial markets, he said.
On manufacturing, Xi said China has largely opened up this sector, with a few exceptions on automobiles, ships and aircraft.
“These industries are now in a position to open up. Going forward, we will reduce as soon as possible limits on foreign investment in these industries, and automobiles in particular,” he said.
On the investment side, China would also improve the environment for foreign investors, the president said. “China relied mainly on providing favourable policies for foreign investors in the past, but now we will have to rely more on improving the investment environment,” Xi said.
China will complete the revision of the negative list on foreign investment in the first half of the year and implement across the board a management system based on pre-establishment national treatment and the negative list.
“We will enhance alignment with international economic and trading rules, increase transparency, strengthen property rights protection, uphold the rule of law, encourage competition and oppose monopolies,” Xi said.
In March, China established a slew of new agencies such as the State Administration for Market Regulation as part of a major readjustment of government institutions.
Xi’s new policy was welcomed by leaders attending the forum. Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong praised Xi’s announcement on the further steps to be taken in opening up the financial sector, protecting intellectual property rights and increasing imports, in order for China to go further in the reform direction. “We look forward to further implementation,” said Lee, who chairs Asean this year.
As a key trade partner of China, Thailand is expected to benefit from the initiatives. Last year, the country’s exports to China amounted to US$29.4 billion, or 12.4 per cent of its total.
Vehicles, one of the import categories flagged for a reduction in tariffs, comprise a top 10 sector for Thai exports to China – worth US$1.2 billion last year. Also in the top 10 list are rubber, machinery, electronic equipment, plastics, wood, organic chemicals and vegetables.