Provinces map out paths to open up service sector

Local governments are setting ambitious targets on further opening up the service industry to foreign capital, as provincial-level authorities implement newly revised national guidelines.

More than 10 places, including Hubei, Jiangsu, Fujian, Zhejiang and Sichuan provinces and Shanghai, recently promulgated specific policies to encourage foreign investment in a wide range of sectors such as financial service, telecommunication, and internet sectors.

Local governments’ latest endeavors are consistent with the national goal set forth in the revised foreign investment catalog released by the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Commerce.

The new version of the catalog, which took effect in June, aims to further lower thresholds for foreign investors.

The move is considered a stride forward for the country to “open up its economy on a larger scale and deeper level”, said Bai Ming, vice-director of a research institute under the Ministry of Commerce.

In this round of opening-up, Shanghai municipal government is taking the lead.

In a plan published in April, Shanghai set goals to further open professional service industries such as finance, telecommunication, culture, maintenance and shipping, as well as manufacturing sectors like information technology, biomedicine, and intelligent connected vehicles.

Foreign-funded companies are also encouraged to participate in scientific and technological projects backed by the government, the plan said.

Jiangsu province, in east China, followed suit. It issued a plan to direct the foreign capital to finance and insurance, trade and logistics, e-commerce, after-sales service, and other sectors that are pivotal to its pillar manufacturing industries.

Besides, some foreign-back firms are also eligible for applying for funds that the Jiangsu government set aside to develop modern service industry.

As the test ground for China’s opening-up to foreign investment, the free trade zones are also preparing new measures. The FTZ in Guangdong is working on policies to open the financial service sector.

Sun Jiwen, the spokesman of the Ministry of Commerce, said absorbing foreign investment, as an important part of China’s opening-up policy, will benefit all parties.

According to data from the ministry, foreign direct investment totaled 341.1 billion yuan ($50.9 billion) in the first five months of this year, a year-on-year drop of 0.7 per-cent. During the same period, 12,159 internationally funded companies were established across the country, up 11.9 per-cent from the same period last year.




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