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Business  

China opens business doors

China took what it called a major step toward opening its financial industry with a promise Friday to ease limits on foreign ownership of banks and securities firms following a visit by U.S. President Donald Trump that was dominated by trade issues.

The announcement by a Cabinet official appeared to respond to mounting U.S. and European complaints that Beijing hampers foreign activity in a variety of industries in violation of free-trade commitments. The American Chamber of Commerce in China, which has appealed to Beijing to ease market barriers, said it looked forward to seeing details of the latest changes.

The announcement followed a series of multibillion-dollar contract signings with American companies during Trump's visit in a tradition aimed at blunting criticism of Beijing's trade surpluses and market barriers.

China will lift its limit on foreign ownership of securities, fund management and futures companies from a minority stake of 49 per cent to a majority stake of 51 per cent and end restrictions after three years, the official, Zhu Guangyao, said at a news briefing. He said a similar change would be made for life insurance companies and those would end in five years.

Regulators also will abolish restrictions that limit a single foreign investor's stake in a Chinese bank to 20 per cent and cap total foreign ownership of any institution at 25 per cent, Zhu said.

"In other words, foreign owners can have full ownership of such companies" after three to five years, he said. "This opening up is decisive and the effect will be far-reaching."

Beijing will also gradually reduce tariffs on automotive imports, Zhu said, without providing details.

The announcement came hours after Trump left Beijing to attend an Asia-Pacific economic meeting in Danang, Vietnam.



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