China announces long-awaited steps to open up financial services sector

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At present, the limit on foreign ownership is 25 percent for publicly traded securities firms and 49 percent for most other financial businesses.

Specifically, foreign firms will be allowed to "hold a majority stake in joint ventures with mainland Chinese securities companies and life insurance joint ventures, and caps on foreign banks' stakes in Chinese banks and asset managers will be removed", China's deputy finance minister Zhu Guangyao said on Friday. Regulators are drafting detailed rules, which will be released soon, he said.

"China is a key market for UBS and... we continue to work towards increasing our stake in [joint venture] UBS Securities". That will happen "in accordance to China's own timetable and road map", the ministry said, following a meeting between Trump and his counterpart Xi Jinping.

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The Chinese government uses joint venture requirements and ownership limits to protect its domestic industries from foreign competition, as well as forcing foreign companies to share technology and knowledge with Chinese partners.

China has already taken steps to gradually open up its $40 trillion financial sector, including allowing foreign investors greater access to its equities and debt markets through trading links with Hong Kong.

China has agreed to lift controls on stock ownership for foreign investors allowing them to hold majority stakes in financial and automobile business to meet a long-held demand from foreign investors and lobby groups. "Financial services is an area where the USA has been lobbying China for many years".

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