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New shortened negative lists open more industries to investors

By Ouyang Shijia Source: China Daily Updated: 2020-12-17


Containers are unloaded at Qingdao Port in Shandong province in March. [Photo by Yu Fangping/For China Daily] 

China on Wednesday announced a new, shortened version of the nationwide negative list for market access, a move that is expected to further improve the level of openness and build a transparent, efficient and fair business environment in the country, experts said.

They said the move demonstrates the government's firm decision to deepen reform and opening-up. It also marked a key strategy in building the new "dual-circulation" development paradigm, which views the domestic market as the country's economic mainstay with domestic and foreign markets complementing each other.

The updated negative list for 2020, jointly released by the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Commerce, indicates areas where investment is prohibited or restricted; all other areas are presumed to be open. It now comprises 123 items, down from 131 in the 2019 version, demonstrating the country's continued willingness to ease market access and build an efficient, fair and unified domestic market, according to the NDRC.

The new list will ease market access to a number of sectors.

"The new negative list is sending a clear signal that China is committed to opening more industries for all market entities, including domestic companies and foreign enterprises," said Liu Chunsheng, an associate professor of international trade at the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing. "It is significant in keeping expectations stable and stimulating market players' vitality."

Liu said shortening negative lists is also key to building the "dual-circulation" development paradigm for the long run.

"Domestically, it will break down barriers for fair market competition and help build a unified domestic market. Globally, it has shown the government's determination to build an open economy and foster a better business environment to attract more foreign investors."

"With more market players competing, they will ask for high-quality government services, which may force change and reforms over the long term. Market players also need to improve the quality of their offerings and increase innovation to meet people's rising demand for better products and services."

Pang Chaoran, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said the shortened negative list is in line with laws and regulations, dynamically reflecting changes in the domestic regulatory system. "It will help to stabilize the expectations of market entities on China's policies and yield high development dividends."

"The negative list system for market access is playing a key role in promoting the building of a high-standard market system," he added. "Continuously shortening the negative list will help to relax market access in a wider range and in larger fields. It will not only make more room for development, but also increase market competition and innovation."

Facing rising protectionism and mounting global uncertainties, the new move has also shown China's firm determination to further open its economy and deepen reforms, laying a solid foundation for fostering high-quality development in the long run, Pang said.

The newly released list fully implements the commitment to "one list for the whole country", with a reduction of 18 percent from the 2018 version, Pang added.

While in the past, there were many negative lists published by different provinces, the government has been working hard to strengthen national list integration. During the past three years, the government has canceled 23 negative lists compiled and released by local areas.

"To boost a strong and unified domestic market, more efforts are also needed to relax market access in the fields of services and consumption," Pang added.