China approves investment law, possible US olive branch

China approves investment law, possible US olive branch”

China says the law will improve the openness, transparency and predictability of the investment environment, establish equal treatment for foreign and domestic investors, and bar forced technology transfers - a focal point of trade tensions with the U.S.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, addressing scepticism over enforcement of a new foreign investment law, pledged on Friday that the government will follow through and do what the legislation promised in protecting foreign firms.

Washington and Beijing have been locked in a tit-for-tat tariff battle as USA presses China for an end to practices and policies it argues have given Chinese firms unfair advantages, including subsidising of industry, limits on access for foreign companies and alleged theft of intellectual property. It says the law, which was passed Friday, includes better safeguards for intellectual property and an end to the practice of forcing worldwide firms to hand over critical technology to their Chinese partners.

The 13th National People's Congress (NPC) at its concluding session on Friday adopted the country's first unified foreign investment law, which is to take effect on January 1, 2020.

US President Donald Trump is expecting in the coming weeks with news on the dispute with China.

The changes would "ensure violators have no place to hide", he said. By the end of 2018, China had set up about 960,000 foreign-invested enterprises with an accumulated total of more than 2.1 trillion US dollars of foreign capital utilized.

The law is shorter than the version that was proposed four years ago and lacks some of the details it contained, said Parker, whose organization represents about 200 American businesses in China.

Li also made no mention of the "Made in China 2025" technology blueprint, under which China has been attempting to create global leaders in advanced technologies at the state's initiative - one of the causes that prompted the United States to wage a trade war.

"There are continued concerns that the on-the-ground reality of industry-specific laws, regulations, and local administrative approvals... may impede full market access at the implementation level despite provisions in the negative list", he told AFP.

The American Chamber of Commerce in China, which represents about 900 United States companies, said this week that the law was being pushed through without "extensive consultation and input" from foreign businesses in the country.

"While not all of our concerns were addressed in this law, it is time to move forward", he added.

China will cut value-added tax rates for manufacturing and other basic sectors, as well as for small and medium-sized companies, the largest providers of jobs in the country.

The law will help create much better conditions for foreign investors and help them plan long-term returns on investments in China, Ohoven told Xinhua.

"I think we can safely assume that this language is a result of the trade negotiations as it was slipped in at the last minute", Parker said.

"This clause allows for political issues to influence investor-state relations, and gives China power to take unilateral action", the European chamber said.

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