China to lift foreign ownership limits on automakers

Virginia Carson
April 17, 2018

It was unclear whether that might mollify Mr Trump, who has threatened tariff hikes on 150 billion U.S. dollars of Chinese goods in response to complaints Beijing pressures foreign companies to hand over technology.

Tuesday's announcement coincided with a Commerce Ministry order to importers of USA sorghum to post bonds to pay possible anti-dumping duties in a separate dispute.

Starting on Wednesday, importers of the product will be required to pay deposits with Chinese customs calculated based on a rate of 178.6 percent, according to the ministry.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce said U.S. sorghum exports to China rose from 317,000 tonnes in 2013 to 4.76 million tonnes in 2017, while price of the exported sorghum fell in 31 per cent - harming Chinese farmers.

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Since then, Trump has threatened to raise duties on up to United States dollars 150 billion of Chinese goods in a dispute over technology policy. Iowa, America's top pork-producing state, voted for Trump in 2016 but went to the Democrats in the previous two presidential elections.

It said preliminary results of a trade probe found U.S. sorghum, a grain used as animal feed and in alcohol distilling, was sold at improperly low prices that hurt Chinese farmers.

It said the investigation had found Chinese imports of sorghum had increased 14-fold in the five years from 2013 even as the price for the commodity fell 31 percent.

Some private sector analysts saw Xi's promise as an attempt to placate Trump, but Chinese government spokespeople said the plans had nothing to do with the trade dispute.

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The highly symbolic moves in autos come after President Xi Jinping said last week China would scrap ownership limits "as soon as possible".

This will be followed by the removal of ownership obstacles in 2022 for makers of commercial vehicles and passenger cars. China is one of the biggest foreign markets for United States sorghum growers. "More or less, Chinese brands already compete with them on a similar level in electric cars".

The NDCR added the shipbuilding industry would later this year do away with any restrictions for foreign investors designing, making or repairing vessels.

Sales of sedans, SUVs and minivans a year ago totalled 24.8 million units, about 55% of which were American, European, Japanese and Korean brands.

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