China to Encourage High-Tech Imports, Plan Shows

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By John Butcher

China's Ministry of Commerce released further details of its 13th five-year plan Jan. 9 in a document that could prove a plus for U.S. companies, specifically those involved in high-tech industries.

China will “encourage imports of advanced technology and equipment” in an effort to push Chinese enterprises to digest and absorb innovation, the document said.

The document, titled “Foreign Trade Development in the ‘Thirteen Five’ Plan,” also said China will “promote the healthy and rapid development of cross border e-commerce.”

But there was another side to the document as well. The government did not threaten to retaliate in the event of a trade war with the U.S. However, the document said China would “respond to anti-subsidy and anti-dumping investigations” that it described as politicized and discriminatory—basically by turning to “dialogue and consultation.”

In addition, it said China will “make full use of the [World Trade Organization] Dispute Settlement Mechanism and the procedures of judicial litigation of member states to rectify its misuse of trade protection and other measures of suspected violation of rules.”

The document comes as tensions between Washington and Beijing have been rising and roughly a week after Chinese state media warned that President-elect Donald Trump will meet with “big sticks” if he tries to ignite a trade war or further strain ties between the two nations.

It also comes just days after Chinese authorities announced a range of policy changes that could see previously off-limits business sectors opened up to foreign firms, a move that could include significant opportunities for U.S. companies.

Active in Trade Forums

China has promised to open its economy further to foreign investment in 2017, and the document reiterated that.

“Opening up is the only way for the prosperity and development of the country,” the document said, and called for an expansion of “the converging points of interests with trading partners.”

The document also pointed to an increase in Chinese companies operating overseas. It said the government will “encourage enterprises to import” as well as “foreign mergers and acquisitions” and “international bidding.”

Chinese trade policy aims to promote high-end exports “using modern technology to transform traditional industries,” the document said.

The government will “encourage strategic emerging industries to explore the international market” as well as strengthening “bilateral economic and trade cooperation mechanisms in the field of high technology.”

In addition, the document suggested the Chinese government will become more active in international trade bodies and seek trade deals with the U.S. and European Union.

China will actively participate in global economic governance and “dispute resolution mechanism reform and improvement work,” the document said. In addition, the country will “actively promote Sino-U.S., China-EU investment treaty negotiations,” it said.

To contact the reporter on this story: John Butcher in Beijing at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jerome Ashton at jashton@bna.com

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