China’s 2019 Market Access Negative List: What Investors Need to Know

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  • China’s 2019 Market Access Negative List opens up more sectors to foreign and domestic investors.
  • The 2019 list updates last year’s version and reduced 20 more items, which were previously controlled for investment.
  • The latest opening follows through China’s market reforms, improving investor access while emphasizing sustainable development and social welfare.

China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) released the 2019 Market Access Negative List (MA negative list) on October 24, 2019.

Compared with the 2018 MA negative list, the 2019 list has been shortened by 20 items, or 13 percent. The removed items mainly cover industries in the services sector, including the establishment of nursing homes, social welfare institutions, vocational skill assessment and appraisal organizations, and fire control services. This means that access to these industries has been liberalized.

Why the MA negative list is important to investors

The 2019 MA negative list now contains a total of 131 items, including 126 restrictive items and five prohibited items – referring to industries that are restricted or prohibited for private investment, both from domestic and foreign investors.

Industries, fields, and businesses not included in the list are open to all market players.

Both domestic and foreign investors should be able to enter these areas on an equal footing in accordance with the law.

Relevant departments and local governments can no longer issue approval measures for market access at will.

Further, the 2019 MA negative list has reduced administrative measures, specified the government departments in charge of each industry item, codified the listed items for unified management, and added regional access measures for specific areas.

The MA negative list system

China first released the MA negative list in December 2018, which marked a new stage towards the full implementation of China’s negative list system for market access.

The 2019 list is the first annual revision since China fully implemented the system, indicating its importance to the government and policy success.

Foreign investors need to consult both the 2019 negative list for foreign investment (FI negative list) and the 2019 MA negative list to know whether they can invest in their industry, field, or business of choice.

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