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China policy round-up: trade talks continue, PBoC leaves MLF rate unchanged, Shanghai to lure more foreign capital

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By Rebecca Feng
20 Sep 2019

In this round-up, deputy-level trade negotiators from China and the US have met, the People’s Bank of China left the medium-term lending facility rate unchanged and the Shanghai government issued more measures to attract foreign investment.

A Chinese trade negotiation delegation arrived in Washington DC to resume face-to-face talks on Wednesday, according to a statement from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. The Chinese delegation was led by Liao Min, the vice finance minister.

The deputy-level talk was in preparations for the higher-level talks set to happen in early October.

Discussions were likely to focus on agriculture, China’s purchase of US soybeans and farm commodities, Reuters reported, citing a person with knowledge of the matter.

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On Tuesday, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) kept the one-year medium-term lending facility (MLF) rate unchanged at 3.3%, against market expectations. On the same day, the PBoC withdrew Rmb145bn ($20.45bn) of liquidity from the interbank market.

Previously, the market had expected the central bank to lower the MLF rate to guide the new loan benchmark – the loan prime rate (LPR) – lower on Friday.

On Friday, the second one-year LPR was set at 4.20%, which is 5bp lower than the first fixing on August 20. The five-year LPR remained unchanged at 4.85%.

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The Shanghai municipal government issued 26 measures on Wednesday to attract more foreign investments.

The rules are aimed at further market opening-up and better legal protection. Shanghai will also continue to open up sectors such as telecom, education and healthcare to foreign investment.

The city government will also act as the pilot in implementing the Chinese government’s decision to cancel foreign ownership thresholds in financial institutions.

Lastly, the Shanghai government will do its part in supporting foreign companies to go public on the main board of the Shanghai Stock Exchange, the new Star market, and the SME board.

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Chinese premier Li Keqiang headed to St Petersburg for the 24th regular meeting of Chinese and Russian prime ministers on Monday.

In an interview with Tass, the largest Russian news agency, Li said that it would be “very difficult” for China’s economy to sustain a growth rate of 6% or more.

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In an attempt to stabilise soaring pork prices in the country, China will release 10,000 metric tonnes of pork from its central reserves this week, according to a Tuesday notice by the China Merchandise Reserve Management Center.

The pork reserves were auctioned online on Thursday afternoon.

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The central government has completed the first round of social credit evaluation of 33m businesses, according to a Monday statement by the National Development and Reform Commission. Companies were issued one of four grades – excellent, good, medium or poor.

These national-level results should be used as the basis for classification in other industries and fields, according to the statement. However, they should not replace credit evaluations on the local and industry-specific levels.

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The National Bureau of Statistics announced in a Wednesday press conference that it would implement a new way of calculating the GDP. It will calculate local GDPs on the central level instead of delegating the calculations to local governments.

Chinese media reported that such adjustments may be related to the common phenomenon that the sum of local GDP results exceeds the national GDP result. The move may be the regulator’s effort to collect more precise information about local economic development.

By Rebecca Feng
20 Sep 2019