World Media

China foreign investment law: Bill aims to ease global concerns

China foreign investment law: Bill aims to ease global concerns

China's rubber-stamp parliament approved a foreign investment law on 15 March that may serve as an olive branch in trade talks with the United States, but it received a lukewarm welcome from business groups. Before the law's approval, a negative list was technically not present across industries in China. At the same time, the structure of the laws was prioritized over the details of the laws, which have set the stage for reform and opening-up.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang cast their votes on the new foreign investment law at the closing session of the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing.

"It's a very important piece of legislation that people have been waiting for for a long time because it will change the working environment for foreign investors in China - and it will most likely have an impact on the way in which Chinese investors can work overseas", Hendrischke said. Although the foreign investment management mechanism has evolved rapidly in recent years, there are still many changes to go both in legislation and in practice.' The research was produced in connection with an upcoming Linklaters report that highlights several key trends that should be viewed as guidelines for success by global companies, investors and brokers seeking to complete Chinese inbound M&A deals.

Donald Trump said negotiations between the U.S. and China trade talks should conclude in four weeks.

"No, the foreign investment law will not lead to a level playing field for foreign firms and investors", Victor Shih, an associate professor of political economy at the University of California in San Diego, told DW. But the new law "doesn't tackle" that problem, she added.

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This has dispelled the concerns of foreign enterprises on the exclusion of their products from government procurement. The law will become effective on January 1, 2020.

China is also to amend its intellectual property law and "introduce a punitive damages mechanism to ensure that all infringements will be seriously dealt with", Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) told reporters at the end of the legislature's two-week session.

The new law which was first drafted in 2015 attempts to address outstanding concerns foreign investors have over perceived unfair trade practices and market access. William Liu, managing partner for Linklaters in China, commented "the increasing liberalisation of foreign investment into China will be a key component for the development of the Chinese economy to move up the value chain, to meet the needs of its growing middle class, and to boost exports". For example, it stipulates that in principle the state shall not expropriate foreign investment, and if it does need to expropriate foreign investment on the ground of protecting the public interest, it shall do so in accordance with relevant legal procedures and offer fair and reasonable compensation.

The American Chamber of Commerce in China, which represents about 900 United States companies, said this week that the law was being pushed through without "extensive consultation and input" from foreign businesses in the country.

According to the FIL, Chinese officials are prohibited from revealing commercially confidential information they obtain from foreign businesses or from favouring Chinese firms.


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