Mixed messages

3 weeks ago Comments Off on Mixed messages

Mixed messages

LI KEQIANG, China’s prime minister, made a big promise to the world’s leading businessmen at the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering in Davos in January 2015. It was that China would introduce a new legal regime for foreign investment that would “treat Chinese and foreign companies as equals”. Its government has duly unveiled a set of revisions to its foreign-investment laws that come into force on October 1st. The standing committee of the National People’s Congress adopted the laws earlier this month and bureaucrats have drafted detailed rules.

The revisions, and the extent to which they fulfil Mr Li’s grand pledge, are an important indicator of how serious the government is about pursuing other initiatives to liberalise rules on foreign investment. China is currently negotiating a bilateral investment treaty (BIT) with the United States. American businesses hope it will lead to greater market access. A BIT with Europe is scheduled to follow.

How, then, do the changes measure up? On the face of it, they involve a welcome shift away from the current regime, which obliges foreign firms to win numerous approvals and is both…Continue reading

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