Premier Li Keqiang promises Beijing will 'operationalise' new foreign investment law

China's Premier Li Keqiang delivers a speech during the opening of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference 2019, on March 28, 2019.
China's Premier Li Keqiang delivers a speech during the opening of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference 2019, on March 28, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

BOAO - The Chinese government is taking concrete steps to flesh out in detail the new foreign investment law that it passed this month, Premier Li Keqiang has said.

Supporting regulations that back up the new law - which has been criticised for being short on specifics - will be formulated by the end of this year, so that they come into force together with the new law on Jan 1, 2020, he said in a speech on Thursday (March 28).

China will also go through its existing laws and regulations and abolish statutes that contradict the new legislation, Mr Li told business and government leaders gathered here for the annual Boao Forum for Asia.

China’s assurances that its new law will be effective in protecting investors and ensuring equal market access comes as United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin arrived in Beijing on Thursday for a new round of talks with Chinese officials to end a trade war that has cost both sides billions of dollars.

Reuters reported that China has put forward proposals that went further than in the past, including on technology transfer, according to a senior US official.

The two sides are reportedly working on written agreements in six areas: forced technology transfer and cyber theft, intellectual property rights, services, currency, agriculture, and non-tariff barriers to trade.

In his speech, Mr Li said the economic outlook for China remains upbeat despite concerns that the global economy is losing momentum amidst uncertainties.

 
 
 
 

Beijing’s record two trillion yuan (S$400 billion) tax cut announced at the annual parliamentary session earlier this month showed China’s commitment to driving internal growth and consumer demand, and that it “will not return to the old path” of massive stimulus, Mr Li added.

“China’s sound economic performance is not a result of quantitative easing or massive stimulus,” Mr Li said.

“Some fluctuations in economic growth from month to month or quarter to quarter are hardly avoidable. Nevertheless, we’ll carry on with our policies as long as the major economic indicators are kept within an appropriate range for the whole year,” he added.

Mr Li stressed that China is committed to the path of opening up, and that its negative list for investments will only grow shorter.

He said Beijing will only “reduce items instead of increasing items” on the list. 

“We’ll further open up sectors including modern services such as value-added telecom, healthcare, education as well as transportation, infrastructure, energy and resources.”