China opened up its financial sector to more foreign investment as the government said it will take targeted measures to cope with rising risks and challenges facing the industry.
Foreign investors can take a stake or control entities including wealth management units of commercial lenders, pension fund managers and currency brokers, the central bank said in a statement on Saturday. The measures were unveiled after a high-level meeting on Friday chaired by Vice Premier Liu He, where policy makers discussed targeted steps to counter rising risks and challenges facing the $44 trillion industry.
China, often criticized by U.S. President Donald Trump as a one-sided beneficiary of global commerce, is pressing on with its pledge to welcome more overseas competition in the financial sector. The sheer size of the industry makes it attractive as winning even single-digit market shares would offer sizable profits, but global firms need to navigate an often opaque regulatory environment and take on state-controlled rivals that drive much of China’s economic activity.
Other measures announced on Saturday are:
- Overseas credit ratings companies can rate all bonds listed on the exchange and inter-bank market, and foreign institutions can be lead underwriters in the inter-bank bond market
- China will scrap foreign ownership limits of securities firms, fund firms, life insurers and futures firms in 2020instead of 2021
- Foreign insurers can hold more than 25% stake in Chinese insurance asset management companies
- China is removing the entry restriction of 30 years of operating experience for foreign insurance companies
- China will take further steps to make it easier for foreign institutional investors to invest in the inter-bank bond market
Foreigners currently hold just 1.6% of the nation’s banking assets and 5.8% of the insurance market, according to Guo Shuqing, China’s chief banking regulator. Authorities have so far approved plans by UBS Group AG, Nomura Holdings Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. to take majority stakes in local securities ventures. JPMorgan said last year it plans to raise its holding to 100% when rules allow.
China released figures this week showing growth in the world’s second-largest economy slowed to 6.2% in the second quarter, the weakest pace since at least 1992 when the country began collecting the data.
The government will carry out a combination of short-and long-term steps that will take into account both micro and macro factors to boost demand and create new growth drivers, the State Council said in a statement on Saturday. “Complicated” international and domestic issues are posing more challenges currently and for the near future, according to the statement.
Chinese trade negotiators have yet to meet with their U.S. counterparts since President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping agreed to a tentative truce late last month in Japan. Liu, who is leading trade talks for China, spoke with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer over the phone this week, but slow progress has raised concerns on how the trade tensions will play out.
Policy makers will continue to implement prudent monetary policy while adopting counter-cyclical adjustments in a timely and appropriate manner to ensure reasonable and ample liquidity, according to the State Council statement. The government will also work to resolve liquidity risks of small and medium-sized financial institutions and block contagion and expansion of risks, according to the statement.