China's manufacturing sector is included in the nation-wide "Market Access Negative List." Photo: AFP
Factory activity has picked up in China despite the Covid-19 crisis sweeping the globe. Photo: AFP

China has released a new nationwide list of sectors open to foreign investors as it pushes through plans to further open up the economy.

While the move was anticipated, it means the announcement from the National Development and Reform Commission, or NDRC, will override all related local government regulations.

Known as the “Market Access Negative List,” it specifies industries which are restricted, or prohibited, to domestic or overseas companies.

Of the 151 sectors on the list, four are prohibited and the rest require government approval, the 83-page document released by the NDRC stated at a news conference on Tuesday.

Industries not on the list are open for investment and require no government approval.

‘Negative list’

“For areas that are not on the negative list for foreign investment, we will supervise in accordance with the principle of being equal to domestic and foreign business,” Xu Shanchang, the director of Economics System Reform, said, adding that the list had been compiled by the NDRC in cooperation with the Ministry of Commerce.

The prohibited areas include “illegal financing” and “unlawful internet activities,” according to the document. Areas that require approval will be mining, agriculture and manufacturing.

“The promulgation of the negative list nationwide means that China has set up a unified, fair and rule-based system for market access,” Xu said.

China’s trading partners, including the United States and the European Union, have repeatedly called on Beijing to take concrete steps to further open its markets to foreign competition and provide a level playing field.