China to lift foreign ownership restrictions for shipbuilding

Chinese automobile manufacturers bullish on new opening-up measures

Chinese carmakers bullish on new opening-up measures

While cranking up the pressure on USA farmers, China also announced plans Tuesday to allow full foreign ownership of automakers in five years, ending some restrictions that have helped fuel its trade dispute with Mr. Trump as it promotes electric auto development. A decision that was designed allow its local automotive industry to compete and develop.

China has announced that it will end foreign ownership caps on local vehicle companies by 2022, signalling the end of a rule that has been in place since 1994 which limits foreign automakers to owning a 50% share of any local venture in the world's largest auto market.

"This is a signal in the right direction".

The highly symbolic moves in autos come after President Xi Jinping said last week the country would scrap ownership limits "as soon as possible", exciting global auto brands even as China and the USA clash over other trade tariffs.

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Some private sector analysts saw Xi's promise as an attempt to placate Trump, but Chinese government spokespeople said the plans had nothing to do with the trade dispute. "BMW will continue pursuing mutual benefit and win-win solutions with the local partners".

The rule change could boost USA electric vehicle maker Tesla, which has been seeking to set up a wholly owned plant in Shanghai. By forcing foreign interests to partner up with domestic vehicle companies, China's OEMs could get more experience in the craft while the foreign automakers reaped the benefits of expanding into a new market. Tesla declined to comment.

The looser rules are likely to raise pressure on China's auto makers. In fact, they may even see more risks than opportunities in ditching their joint venture structures, according to Asia-Pacific chief at consultancy IHS Markit, James Chao.

"While getting a bigger share could be advantageous in terms of boosting profits, they may actually be already too dependent on their Chinese partners to sever those ties" Chao said.

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The country lifting the 50 percent cap on the stakes that foreign automakers can own of local joint ventures sends a message to the Chinese partners: take charge of your own future. GM, which is one of the biggest players in China with a 14% market share, also said the company's "growth in China is a result of working with our trusted joint venture partners".

Daimler, parent company of Mercedes-Benz, said it was happy with its current business set-up in China, adding it was watching regulatory developments with interest.

The change would scrap rules that require global automakers to work through state-owned partners, an arrangement that forces them to share technology with potential competitors.

The United States has banned American companies from selling parts to telecoms equipment maker ZTE Corp for seven years, creating a new fissure in Sino-U.S. ties.

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