Construction workers in Shanghai. Photo: AFP/Wang Zhao

After testing a negative-list approach to regulating foreign investment in free-trade zones, China will soon be ready to implement nationwide, official Xinhua news agency reports. The new model will be implemented as soon as 2018.

Investment in China has previously been allowed on a positive basis, identifying sectors and businesses that would be open to investment. The new model, the adoption of which foreign governments have urged for years, would make all sectors and businesses theoretically open to investment, unless they have been explicitly identified on the negative list.

“Introduction of the negative list is a creative approach at home and abroad. It lays an important foundation for [the] market to play a decisive role in resource allocation,” Xu Shanchang of the National Development and Reform Commission was quoted by Xinhua as saying.

The announcement comes after a circular issued by the State Council in August, saying that China would make its foreign investment environment “more law-based, internationalized and convenient.”

“The country should continue to reduce market access restrictions for foreign capital,” the document said.