Saturday, November 10, 2007

China’s economic planning agency has issued restrictions on foreign investment in real estate and other industries

China’s economic planning agency has issued restrictions on foreign investment in real estate and other industries, part of a range of measures aimed at righting imbalances in the economy.

A lengthy list of revised rules that take effect on Dec 1 imposes bans on foreign investment in businesses such as golf courses, gambling, genetically modified crops, traditional teas, film production and weapons manufacturing, according to a document seen yesterday on the website of the National Development and Reform Commission.

China’s leaders have touted a shift in planning away from hyper-fast industrial expansion toward a more sustainable form of development.The change hasn’t yet been reflected in data showing the economy growing at an annual rate of nearly 12 per cent.

The revised guidelines welcome foreign investment in environmentally friendly areas such as recycling, ‘clean’ industries and environmental protection.

They ban foreign investment in mining of strategically important minerals and restrict investment in energy intensive, highly polluting projects.

Some restrictions are for illegal businesses, such as the processing of ivory and tiger bones. Others, such as a ban on foreign investment in Internet services and news websites, had been announced earlier.

Many match a list issued by the NDRC in 2004. The reissue of the rules suggests that some, like limits on foreign investment in real estate, were not adequately enforced.

State media reports played up the limits on property investment, although apart from the ban on investment in golf courses and in real estate agencies, the list matches current regulations.

The NDRC’s list also discourages investment in export-oriented industries, reflecting China’s efforts to curb its ever-soaring trade surplus, which is expected to top US$200 billion this year.

Foreign direct investment in China rose almost 11 per cent in January-September from a year ago to US$47.2 billion, according to the state media reports. Of that total, foreign investment in property development accounted for 42.3 billion yuan (US$5.7 billion).

Foreign direct investment in 2006 totalled US$63 billion. — AP

Source : Business Times - 9 Nov 2007

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