Economic Watch: China speeds up honoring opening-up commitment with new GPA bid

Source: Xinhua| 2019-10-22 18:59:34|Editor: Xiang Bo
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BEIJING, Oct. 22 (Xinhua) -- China has submitted the seventh offer to join the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA), another concrete step in the country's ongoing efforts to open its market wider to the world.

The offer marked China's latest bid since 2014 to join the plurilateral treaty, which requires its parties to open up their domestic government procurement markets and promotes international trade.

The revised offer added the military sector for the first time and included seven more provinces, 16 state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and 36 local universities.

"The offer was a major move to speed up the negotiation process of joining the GPA, fully demonstrating China's determination in opening wider to the outside world and safeguarding the multilateral trading system," the Ministry of Finance said in a statement.

China's accession to the GPA would not only expand imports into the country but also create opportunities for foreign companies to gain a larger share of the giant government procurement market through fair competition, said Su Qingyi, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

For a major economy, government procurement usually accounts for 10 to 15 percent of the country's GDP, according to Su. The GPA parties have opened procurement activities worth an estimated 1.7 trillion U.S. dollars annually to international competition, the WTO said.

Including SOEs into the bid would promote more transparent and fair procurement by these firms, forcing them to establish more unified and standardized procurement mechanisms, Tu Xinquan, a professor at the University of International Business and Economics, told a publication run by the Ministry of Finance.

"The negotiations to join the GPA are not only about exchanging market access with its participants, but they are also about pushing reform and opening-up domestically," he said.

The new bid marked China's latest efforts to honor its commitment to opening up against the backdrop of rising protectionism and unilateralism.

In its recent move to speed up the opening of the financial sector, China announced a clear timetable for allowing full foreign ownership of financial service companies, promising to end foreign ownership limits on brokerages, fund management firms and futures companies in 2020, a year earlier than originally planned.

In response to a question concerning how long it would take for such financial opening-up to materialize, Huang Hong, vice chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, said Monday that the commission has approved several applications by foreign investors to set up insurance firms this year, stressing that opening-up policies are already being implemented.

Overseas entities can start to file applications to establish futures firms, as restrictions on foreign ownership of such firms will be lifted on Jan. 1 next year, the country's securities regulator announced earlier this month.