China simplifies rules to spur investment overseas

From October, most Chinese firms will no longer need government approval prior to their overseas investment, but they must register their investment with the authorities, under revised rules published by the Ministry of Commerce, as reported by Reuters.

China has simplified rules to make it easier for domestic companies to invest overseas, which will help local firms climb up the global value chain.

For state-own companies, the Ministry of Commerce, which reviews outbound investment applications from companies owned by the central government, will make decisions within 20 working days. The approval time limit for provincial commerce departments, which review applications from local firms, will be 15 working days.

The latest step is in line with the government’s recent reforms to cut red-tape to reduce the government’s administrative powers, the ministry said in a statement.

With the revised rules, deals larger than $1 billion must also be approved by the National Development and Reform Commission, Xinhua said last week.

The government has been encouraging outbound direct investment by local firms to help slow down the rapid build-up of the country’s foreign exchange reserves and help improve local firms’ competitiveness in the global market.

China’s outbound direct investment by non-financial firms hit $90.2 billion in 2013, up 16.8 percent from the previous year. Meanwhile, China attracted $117.6 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) last year, up 5.3 percent from 2012.

Commerce ministry officials have predicted that China’s outbound investment could exceed foreign direct investment sometime in the near future.

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