China to lift certain foreign investment restrictions: commerce minister

China to lift certain foreign investment restrictions: commerce minister

BEIJING - China's Ministry of Commerce plans to lift access restrictions on foreign investment in domestic markets such as accounting and auditing, commercial logistics and e-commerce, Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng told state media on Tuesday.

Foreign investment restrictions on child care, old-age care and architecture will also be lifted, while investment in finance, education, culture and medical care will be opened up to foreigners, state news agency Xinhua quoted Gao as saying.

The report added that the manufacturing sector would become more open.

"The ministry will work to widen market access for foreign investors," Xinhua said.

"It will speed up unifying laws and regulations for both domestic and overseas investors, and endeavour to keep investment policy stable, transparent and predictable."

The ruling Communist Party last month unveiled its boldest set of economic and social reforms in nearly 30 years, focusing on the "decisive" role of markets in putting the world's second-largest economy on a more stable footing.

Gao told Xinhua that the Ministry of Commerce would also work to develop free trade zones (FTZs) following the establishment of a pilot free trade zone in Shanghai this year.

"Qualified regions will also be selected to build FTZs or ports," Xinhua reported.

"The acceleration of FTZ construction will help overcome the weakness in traditional development patterns and in turn bring further openness and reform."

A document released by the party following the conclave of top leaders promised land and residence registration reforms needed to boost the urban population and allow a transition to a Western-style services-and consumption-driven economy.

Pricing of fuels, electricity and other resources - now a source of distortion - would be mainly decided by markets, while Beijing also pledged to speed up the opening of its capital account, interest rate and currency regime liberalisation.

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