China announces timetable for opening finance industries

Business

BEIJING (AP) — China announced a timetable Friday for carrying out a promise to allow full foreign ownership of some finance businesses, starting with futures traders on Jan. 1, as Beijing tries to make its slowing economy more competitive and efficient.

Ownership limits will be ended for mutual fund companies on April 1 and for securities firm on Dec. 1, the China Securities Regulatory Commission said on its website. Until now, foreign investors have been limited to owning 51% of such businesses.

The announcement comes as U.S. and Chinese negotiators are meeting in Washington for talks aimed at ending a tariff war.

Premier Li Keqiang announced plans in July to lift ownership limits in finance a year ahead of the previously announced target of 2021.

China has promised repeatedly to open its finance industries to foreign investors, but the United States and other government complain Beijing is dragging its feet or imposing regulations that limit competition.

Regulators earlier announced plans to end caps on foreign ownership of banks, insurance companies and pension fund managers.

The government has announced initiatives over the past 18 months to end caps on foreign ownership of auto manufacturers, insurance companies and other enterprises.

Foreign business groups welcome the changes but say investors need to see regulations that will be imposed on them to know whether such ventures can be profitable.

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