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China likely to relax JV ownership restrictions soon

The long-discussed ownership restrictions of Sino-foreign automotive JVs are likely to be relaxed in the near future and the issue has been put into agenda by the relevant government departments, according to the person who briefed this matter. However, the person declined to expose the specific date and the detailed rules.

During a press conference on Mar. 20, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang noted that China will relax and even eliminate the restrictions on the foreign ownership of joint ventures in certain business sectors gradually, adding that the government will completely open up the manufacturing industry. In addition, the negative list of foreign investments will be adjusted and cut short. In 2018 and years ahead, China will gradually lower the market access.

Covering a wide variety of fields, car manufacturing industry is one of the pillar industries of Chinese economy. It is obvious that Premier Li's statement on easing ownership restriction of Sino-foreign manufacturing joint ventures is applicable to the auto industry.

Some industry insiders analyzed that as China gained improvement in efficiency and scale of the car industry, the relaxation of foreign ownership will bolster technological advancement of the Chinese auto industry, attract foreign-funded companies to hold more equities in their JVs in China gradually and help Chinese companies acquire more advanced technologies. Though the relevant person hasn't disclosed the specific timetable for relaxing the foreign ownership of automotive JVs, he stated that it will not take too much time to know the certain information.