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China’s new commerce minister vows to relax FDI restrictions

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China’s new commerce minister, Zhong Shan, has put increasing foreign direct investment (FDI) attractiveness high up on his agenda, since he was named for the post on February 24 by president Xi Jinping.

Mr Zhong declared his intentions to remove restrictions against foreign companies and expand free trade zones (FTZs) as a way to attract further FDI, at a meeting with policymakers in Beijing in late February, just before the National People’s Congress, according to a report on the People’s Republic of China (PRC) State Council website.

Reforms suggested

Specifically, Mr Zhong has argued for further supply-side reform. This includes reducing restrictions against previously banned foreign enterprises, such as healthcare and educational businesses, which are referred to as “experiments” by the PRC.

“A total of 114 innovative ways to get things done have been duplicated as a result of experiments that have taken place in the country’s four FTZs, including Shanghai and Guangdong,” said Mr Zhong in the State Council report.

Regardless of a slowing economy, China remains a hotspot for FDI. In 2016, foreign investors poured a record $139bn into the economy, up by 2.3% from a year earlier, according to figures from UN trade and development body Unctad. However, despite…

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