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China policy round-up: trade talks back on, trust crack down, State Council tackles trade, Anbang Insurance fully taken over

Donald Trump March 2016 PA 230x150
By Rebecca Feng
12 Jul 2019

In this round-up, trade talks resumed on shaky ground, the insurance regulator tightened rules on trusts investing in real estate companies, the State Council promised to ease the tax burden for smaller enterprises and the government completed the takeover of Anbang Insurance

The US and China launched the first round of trade talks on Tuesday after a two-month pause, according to an official statement from the Ministry of Commerce.

During a phone call, the US trade representative Robert Lighthizer and treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, talked with Chinese vice premier Liu He and head of the Ministry of Commerce Zhong Shan. This is the first time Zhong joined the trade negotiation.

“The two sides exchanged views on how to move forward with the agreements reached between the two heads of state,” according to the Chinese statement.

In other news, the US exempted 110 Chinese medical and electrical products from tariffs. These products are mainly in the medical and electronics industry, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

The Donald Trump administration will also issue licences to US companies selling products to Huawei so long as they don’t pose a “threat to national security”, Wilbur Ross, commerce secretary, said on Tuesday at an annual department conference in Washington DC. However, Huawei will remain on the entity list.

US president Trump complained on Twitter that China has not fulfilled its promise made during the G20 to “immediately” purchase US farm goods.

“Mexico is doing great at the Border, but China is letting us down in that they have not been buying the agricultural products from our great Farmers that they said they would,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday evening local time.

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Chinese regulators are cracking down on trust companies lending to the property market, local media Caixin reported.

The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) told trust companies in a Wednesday meeting to put the scale and growth of their property financing businesses under control.

According to Caixin, onshore trust companies have expanded their real estate investment portfolios at a rapid speed over the past years. Going forward, the regulator told the firms to ensure no growth in their outstanding amount of real estate financing businesses at least until the end of the third quarter.

Starting from the fourth quarter this year, trust companies will have to wait for the regulator’s approval before they increase their investments in real estate projects.

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Meanwhile, on the weekly Wednesday State Council meeting, the group focused on “stabilising trade”.

The meeting concluded that the government will improve the export tax rebate policy and speed up the rebate process. It will also encourage financial institutions to increase financing support for small and medium-sized enterprises when they conduct trades with foreign entities.

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The Chinese government officially finished the takeover of Anbang Insurance, a debt-ridden giant insurer, on Thursday. The takeover first started in February 2018.

The company was renamed Dajia Insurance, or in Chinese, “Everybody’s Insurance”. The takeover was part of the broader deleveraging campaign, according to a statement by the CBIRC on Thursday.

Dajia Insurance has Rmb20.36bn ($2.96bn) in registered capital. China Insurance Security Fund holds a lion’s share. State-owned Sinopec and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation held smaller stakes.

By Rebecca Feng
12 Jul 2019