China to liberalize foreign ownership rules

Kim Jong Un North Korea China

Amid the Sino-US tariff trade spat, China today said it will impose provisional anti-dumping measures on the growing imports of sorghum from America and threatened retaliatory measures for denial of export privileges to its top tech firm ZTE.

Beijing launched the sorghum investigation on February 4 in what some business people saw as a warning shot as President Donald Trump hiked tariffs on Chinese-made washing machines and solar modules.

Earlier this month, the Chinese commerce ministry threatened to impose a 25% duty on United States agricultural products, including soybeans, wheat, and beef, in response to the United States proposal to levy duties on Chinese high-tech goods. Beijing has responded with its own list of USA goods for possible retaliation.

In China, sorghum is used in animal feed and also in the production of a popular type of Chinese liquor. U.S. sorghum exports to China were worth just over $2 billion in 2015, and closer to $1 billion over the past two years.

Data from the MOC showed U.S. sorghum exports to China surged from 3.17 lakhs tonnes in 2013 to 4.76 million tonnes in 2017, while export prices have slumped 31 per cent during the period, which led to a fall in domestic prices that hurt local industries, the Ministry said. It said prices of USA sorghum fell 13 percent from 2013 to 2017, while shipments increased 14-fold. The ruling for anti-subsidy probe will be released later as the two probes involve different procedures and entities, Wang said.

The change would scrap rules that require global carmakers to work through state-owned partners, an arrangement that forces them to share technology with potential competitors. It was unclear whether that might mollify the USA president and his complaints that Beijing pressures foreign companies to hand over technology.

Carmakers had been waiting for details since President Xi Jinping announced in a speech last week that ownership restrictions would be eased and auto import duties reduced.

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Analysts say the financial risk battle will take a toll on growth but China is counting on its 1.4 billion consumers to pick up the slack.

One auto company likely to gain is electric vehicle giant Tesla led by entrepreneur Elon Musk, who this year had asked US President Donald Trump for help on the market access issue, alluding to the troubles his firm has faced producing in China.

Limits on foreign ownership of electric vehicle producers will be eliminated this year, the Cabinet's planning agency said.

The moves signals the end of a long-standing rule in the world's largest auto market where foreign carmakers can now only own a 50 percent share of any local venture, a policy put in place to help support domestic carmakers compete against more advance worldwide rivals.

Automakers complied because they gained access to China's populous market, which passed the U.S.in 2009 as the world's biggest by number of vehicles sold.

Sales of sedans, SUVs and minivans past year totalled 24.8 million units, about 55% of which were American, European, Japanese and Korean brands.

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