China to ease restrictions on foreign ownership of carmakers

Mobile phone footage shows thousands of toads sitting and hopping on the street in China

Mobile phone footage shows thousands of toads sitting and hopping on the street in China

The country will scrap the limits on firms making fully electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in 2018, commercial vehicle firms in 2020 and lift restrictions on the wider passenger vehicle market by 2022, China state planner said in a statement.

A preliminary ruling by the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) of China found that U.S. companies had dumped grain sorghum on the Chinese market, and such imports had caused substantial damage to the domestic industry, the MOC said.

Until now, global carmakers such as General Motors and Volkswagen have been allowed to own no more than 50% of a joint venture with a Chinese partner and were limited to two ventures. After a five-year transition period, the auto sector would lift all current restrictions, the NDCR said.

Auto analysts said the new rules will have the most immediate benefit for electric vehicle makers, especially those with a less established presence in China.

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.

Under the current setup, foreign carmakers must transfer proprietary technology to the joint venture companies they set up - the issue of forced technology transfer has been a top concern for the Trump administration.

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"Through the full liberalisation of the manufacturing industry, we will support Chinese and foreign companies in achieving common development on a level playing field", the NDRC said. It added the liberalization would encourage greater exchanges of capital, technology, management and personnel of Chinese and foreign firms.

China's move came amid the trade spat with the US following which Beijing has slapped 25 per cent tariffs on American soybean imports in retaliation for US President Donald Trump camping tariffs on a range of Chinese products.

Since then, President Trump has threatened to raise duties on up to $150 billion of Chinese goods in a dispute over technology policy.

China on Tuesday elaborated on when it would scrap foreign ownership limits for automakers, shipbuilders and aircraft producers. A negative list includes all the industries with foreign investment restrictions.

Data from the MOC showed United States 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.

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