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March 15, 2019

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China’s new foreign investment law to boost opening-up: expert

A longtime US observer on China has said the draft foreign investment law being deliberated in Beijing is “definitely a step forward” in the country’s continued reform and opening-up.

David Dollar, a senior fellow in the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution, told Xinhua in an interview on Monday that he believes the draft law will attract more foreign investment.

The draft law, which has been submitted to China’s ongoing annual national legislative session for a third reading, aims to further improve the transparency of foreign investment policies and to better ensure that foreign-invested enterprises participate in market competition on an equal basis.

Calling it a “sensible” set of policies, Dollar highlighted the shift to a negative list system, which the expert said he believes will “probably result in more sectors opening up.”

Dollar said opening up more sectors would allow the entry of high-quality imports and also increase competition so that Chinese companies could improve, which would ultimately benefit China’s economic growth.

The expert used to serve as country director for China at the World Bank from 2004 to 2009, and then as the US Treasury Department’s economic and financial emissary to China from 2009 to 2013.

‘Smart’ measures

He said China has gone through a rapid structural adjustment since the 2008 financial crisis, as its economy has become more focused on consumption.

He also said the massive tax and fee cuts to be rolled out are “smart” measures expected to lower the price of some products, give more impetus to consumption and stimulate the economy. “I think the tax cuts will be very welcome,” he said.

As one of the highlights of this year’s government work report, China has pledged that it will reduce the tax burdens and social insurance contributions of enterprises by nearly 2 trillion yuan (US$298 billion) in 2019.

Another thing in the work report that has attracted his attention is Beijing’s pledge to continue opening up the country’s economy.

Dollar, who made his first trip to the Chinese mainland in 1986, said China’s change over the past few decades is “unbelievable,” thanks to the continued implementation of the reform and opening-up policy.

The China expert encouraged the country to “follow through,” and suggested it further open up its service sectors, such as financial services and health care, as the Chinese economy is going to depend more on services in the coming years.

The authors are Xinhua writers.


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