Shanghai on Tuesday shortened the negative list that bars overseas investment into some sectors in the Shanghai free trade zone (FTZ), a policy move designed to lower the entry barriers for foreign investors into the Chinese market, but analysts suggested that the focus should be on the rules for a wider market.
The newly revised version of the negative list cut the number of bans and restrictions on foreign investment in the FTZ to 139 items from the previous 190 items.
One of the biggest changes is made in the financial sector. In the previous version of the negative list, foreign investors were not fully allowed to participate in the banking industry and the services offered by finance, trust and currency brokerage companies. But in the revised version, foreign investors can do business in these sectors as long as they abide by the related regulations.
Other sectors that are newly opened to foreign investors include oil refinery, nonferrous metal smelting and the wholesale market, according to a statement on the website of the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone.
The easing of restrictions is in line with the market expectations, Zhang Yugui, director of the School of Economics and Finance at the Shanghai International Studies University, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
But Zhang also noted that foreign investors should have more access to the services industry, as core industries such as the manufacturing sector are still firmly controlled.
Shanghai FTZ, launched in September 2013, was seen as a testing ground for financial reforms, commodities trading and logistics.
Shanghai adopts a "negative list" approach for foreign investment in the zone, which ensures foreign companies can invest without any restriction if a sector is not on the list.
The number of bans or restrictions that the new negative list has lifted for foreign investment is not the central issue. What matters more is whether what has been achieved in the FTZ can be extended to the whole country, analysts said.
"At present, the newly opened sectors that are excluded from the shortened negative list actually don't attract much interest from foreign investors, and the policy is only confined to the free trade zone. What overseas investors value the most is the massive market potential in the whole country," Qiang Yongchang, director of the International Trade Study Center at Fudan University, said on Tuesday.
The actual impact of the policy innovations carried out in the FTZ on the dynamics of the entire Chinese economy is the fundamental issue, instead of the specific policy privileges, Qian pointed out. The opening of the sectors is an unprecedented move in China, and where the line should be drawn for the restrictions in the future will require time and patience to figure out, he said.
The People's Bank of China has held an internal discussion and expects the rules related to the negative list could be expanded beyond the FTZ by the end of this year or early next year, Zhang said without elaborating.
"It's just an anticipation for now, and whether it will be achieved depends on China's risk control ability, as an open capital market is vulnerable to arbitrage," Zhang noted.
"The reduction to the scope of the negative list re-establishes European companies' confidence in China's commitment to the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone," said Stefan Sack, vice president of the European Chamber and Chairman of its Shanghai Chapter in a statement e-mailed to the Global Times Tuesday.
There is, however, still great room for further eliminating many of the remaining barriers to foreign investment in the zone that would bring benefit for both European business and China, Sack said.
The Shanghai No 1 Intermediate People's Court yesterday accepted a civil suit from a local company against United States tech giant Apple Inc for trademark infringement in relation to a cellphone app.
The case was filed after the plaintiff, Shanghai Homevv Co, discovered Apple was selling an online shopping program via its app store that carried Homevv's registered trademark and referenced its website.
The product, however, had been produced by Shanghai Woshang Information Technology Co, which registered it with the Apple store.
Following the discovery, Homevv last month made several requests for Apple to remove the program from its store, but received no reply, Ma Yongjian, a lawyer representing the plaintiff, told Shanghai Daily.
Apple was unavailable for comment yesterday.
Homevv said it registered a trademark for its website in 2012 and developed the application earlier this year.
It said it wanted to have the product featured in the Apple store and made three approaches to the company in April and May. Each time, the app was rejected, with the US company saying on the third occasion that the product already existed, Ma said.
It was then that Homevv discovered the alleged imposter, and decided to take legal action, he said.
The company is demanding more than 100 million yuan (US$16 million) in compensation from Apple and Shanghai Woshang Information Technology Co, the court said.
It is also seeking public apologies from the pair and has requested they stop infringing its trademarks. Homevv also asked Apple to remove the app from its store and told Woshang to destroy it.
The court has yet to set a date for the hearing.
Tencent Holdings, China's largest Internet company by market share, announced Friday that it is buying a 19.9 percent stake in the Chinese online marketplace 58.com Inc for $736 million, an important move analysts said for Tencent to promote its online-to-offline (O2O) connection of businesses.
Unlike the traditionally separate business models of off-line shopping and e-commerce, O2O is a new model that makes online payment a necessary step in a wide range of off-line services.
Yao Jinbo, founder and Chief Executive Officer of 58.com, confirmed on his Sina Weibo late Friday that the strategic cooperation project was completed within 10 days without disclosing further information.
Shanghai may launch an international trading board for gold in the China (Shanghai) pilot Free Trade Zone this quarter.
The new trading board in the FTZ is expected to attract foreign participants as China hopes to have a bigger influence on global gold prices.
The FTZ is expected to attract a gold inventory of 1,000 tons.
Gold sales rose to 323 tons in the first quarter, up 0.8 percent from a year earlier, local media reports said citing the Shanghai Gold Exchange.
Xu Luode, secretary-general of the bourse, said earlier that the international board would adopt Shanghai Gold -- a spot gold trading mechanism similar to the Loco London Gold.
Swiss specialty chemicals company Clariant said on Wednesday that it plans to establish a research and development center in Shanghai.
The R&D Center, expected to be operational by 2015, is intended to cater to the burgeoning Chinese specialty chemicals industry, which Clariant has been serving since 2011, by providing enhanced technical service and developing catalytic solutions tailored to China's requirements. The company's previous ventures in China have focused on coal-to-methanol catalysts.
The center will focus on coal-to-chemicals and specialty applications while developing new catalysts for hydrogenation applications and supporting Clariant's pre-existing Chinese production sites.
Chinese tech company Huawei received Monday the NRW.INVEST Award in the western German city of Duesseldorf for its outstanding investments in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW).
For the 10th time, NRW Economics Ministry and NRW.INVEST, the state's economic development agency that deals with support for foreign investors, have presented the NRW.INVEST Award.
With this award, NRW honors exemplary investments at the business location. This year, three companies received awards, including Huawei, the American package delivery company UPS and the French company Air Liquide.
North Rhine-Westphalia is a leading location in Germany for foreign investments. According to NRW Economics Minister Garrelt Duin, about a quarter of investment projects in Germany flew to the state in 2013.
"Engine of the development is Asia," NRW.INVEST CEO Petra Wassner said at Monday's presentation ceremony.
According to NRW.INVEST, the number of foreign investment projects in NRW jumped to 236 in 2013, a 12 percent increase compared to the previous year. Again, China led the country ranking with 63 investment projects.
Huawei, a Chinese multinational networking and telecommunications equipment and services company, has been making large investments in NRW's capital city of Duesseldorf. Currently, 650 employees are working in the company's headquarters for Western Europe and Germany which is located in Duesseldorf.
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