Investment scrutiny to widen

Updated: Dec 23, 2017 China Daily Print
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China plans to adopt an “all-around” supervision program covering all phases of outbound investment, with more steps to fill a policy void and further facilitate legislation in the pipeline, according to the nation’s top economic regulator.

With a slew of guidelines on outbound investment having effectively curbed irrational buying sprees, the government decided to improve the regulatory framework and turn separate documents into a comprehensive law.

To further promote opening-up, improving the regulatory framework is one of the key tasks to accomplish next year, said He Lifeng, minister of the National Development and Reform Commission. He made the remark on Dec 22 during the commission’s annual conference, which was the first high-level economic meeting after the Central Economic Work Conference closed earlier this week.

The government will adopt new methods, speed up the legislation process and fill the policy void in order to achieve “all-around” supervision-which is the first time that the government will upgrade the regulatory scale of outbound investment, extending regulatory coverage to all of the investment process.

Efforts to speed up legislation for foreign investment are also in place, as part of moves to provide a first-rate legal system to further promote opening-up, according to He.

There is no timeline for when the law is expected to come out, according to officials familiar with the matter.

“All-around supervision means the government is likely to enhance cooperation across different government regulatory bodies and integrate the statistics collected by different sectors,” said Zhou Mi, a senior research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.

The commission has established an information-sharing system, in which different regulatory bodies are able to check investment data of enterprises and see if companies have been put onto the blacklist compiled by the commission’s department in charge of outbound investment.

Pushing the legislation is seen as crucial because some rules in current guidelines might not be clear to investors, such as to what extent investment will be limited if projects fall into categories that are limited.

Earlier guidelines by the commission added some fields to limited areas, such as investment in property, entertainment and sports clubs. They are not banned, but will face scrutiny in order to verify the authenticity of investment purposes, according to the guidelines.

“The general standard is to examine whether the overseas investment is against national security interests,” said an NDRC official who declined to be named. “We have streamlined the registration system a lot for those investments that are neither limited nor restricted.”

The law is expected to help improve efficiency across different regulatory bodies and improve the capacity to help investors planning to invest in foreign countries, the official added.

While improving the outbound investment framework, the commission is expected to roll out more policies granting further access to foreign investors in such areas as the financial sector, according to He.

The government will adopt a national security review system for foreign investment, he added.

Companies will be subject to a national security review if they are investing in certain “sensitive industries,” according to the Ministry of Commerce.

The system now applies only to foreign companies investing in free-trade zones.

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