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Free trade zone restrictions loosened

CHINA has updated the negative list for foreign investment in the country’s 11 free trade zones, cutting 27 restrictions across eight sectors including mining, manufacturing and banking.

In manufacturing, foreign companies are allowed to produce their own rail transport facilities, instead of having to set up joint ventures with local firms. Rules were also eased for foreign companies manufacturing electric vehicles and related products.

Foreign banks can underwrite government bonds, and they do not have to wait for a minimum period of operation to launch yuan services.

The list, first compiled in 2013 when the first FTZ was set up in Shanghai, spells out specific bans or restrictions to foreign investment. Authorities have vowed to gradually shorten the list.

In 2013, there were 190 items on the list. This was reduced to 139 in 2014, and to 122 in the previous 2015 update. The list now stands at 95 items.

China approved Chongqing and the provinces of Liaoning, Zhejiang, Henan, Hubei, Sichuan and Shaanxi to open FTZs in March after Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangdong and Fujian.

By the end of April, 8,734 foreign-funded companies had been set up in the Shanghai FTZ and contracted foreign investment had reached 688 billion yuan (US$101 billion).

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