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Country raises bar as it boosts opening-up



Country raises bar as it boosts opening-up

Aerial photo taken on Dec 5, 2021 shows the sunrise scenery of the Yangpu international container port at Yangpu economic development zone in South China's Hainan province. [Photo/Xinhua]

China is expected to advance institutional innovations to steadfastly expand all-around opening-up and to quicken the establishment of an open economy of higher standards, according to experts and business leaders.

Such efforts will better connect domestic and foreign markets and share development dividends with the rest of the world, which will bring more certainty to the global economy amid multiple challenges, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and rising protectionism, they said.

"It is quite clear that China has become well-prepared to better align with high-standard international economic and trade rules and advance institutional opening-up," said Huo Jianguo, vice-chairman of the China Society for World Trade Organization Studies.

According to the recent annual tone-setting Central Economic Work Conference, the nation will promote institutional opening-up, better implement the national treatment for foreign enterprises, attract more multinational companies to invest, and promote the early implementation of major foreign investment projects.

The meeting called for taking the initiative to align high-level international economic and trade rules, and vitalizing development through policies of reform and opening-up next year.

Premier Li Keqiang said on Wednesday that companies worldwide are welcome to further expand investment in China and deepen cooperation in various fields to achieve common development. He made the remark while attending a virtual dialogue with business leaders of the Global CEO Council in Beijing.

Zhang Yansheng, chief researcher at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said China's pursuit of establishing a higher-level open economy has opened a chapter on a new era, marked by its efforts to promote global cooperation in areas including the services sector, digital trade and green development.

The nation's application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, an 11-nation trade agreement with high standards for trade rules and market access, has promised a big step forward in domestic reforms and institutional opening-up, Zhang said.

Huo from the China Society for World Trade Organization Studies said high-level institutional opening-up will further improve the business environment toward more market-based, law-abiding and internationalized to meet high-level international standards.

"China is expected to make some major changes in fields including government procurement, intellectual property rights, data flow, environmental protection, labor standards and State-owned enterprises as it aims to join the CPTPP," he said.

Increased trials in pilot free trade zones are foreseeable to accumulate experience in high-level institutional opening-up, while more measures to better open up the services sector are also expected, as the sector accounts for nearly 80 percent of foreign investment inflows to China, he added.

As part of its efforts to further open up the services sector, China removed foreign ownership caps on securities, fund and futures companies in early 2020.

More foreign financial institutions are expected to tap into the country's opening-up agenda to expand their investments and business layout in China next year, experts said.

David Chin, China country head at UBS, said the global financial services company is seeking to raise its stake in UBS Securities, its investment banking joint venture in the country, from 51 percent to 67 percent, which will help diversify the company's business line and reinforce its competitive edge.

The company believes China's steps to open up will continue and will provide great growth opportunities for investment banking, said Chin, who is also head of investment banking in the Asia-Pacific region for UBS.