China’s Outbound Investment Requirements Relaxed

It has been reported that requirements for Chinese companies to get approval for outbound investment have been relaxed. The bill states that companies now only need to file – with approval no longer needed – with the National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”) if the projects are related to sensitive countries and industries. The April 2014 Outbound Rules required companies to get approval for all outbound investment projects worth U.S. $1 billion or more or involving sensitive countries, regions or sectors. The new law removes the price threshold and only maintains the sensitive criteria for NDRC approval. It also states that any investments which are sensitive and over U.S. $2 billion require NDRC filing and State Council approval. 

Source: Economic Observer (Chinese only: http://www.eeo.com.cn/2015/0108/271090.shtml?LS=EMS1119256)

Date: Jan. 8, 2015

China sets stage for opening commodity futures to foreign investors

(Reuters) – China has published draft rules to allow foreign investors to trade in some of the country’s commodities futures, potentially paving the way for an imminent opening of a booming market as Beijing looks to increase its sway on global commodity pricing.

China is the top global consumer of raw materials and has some of the most liquid commodities futures markets. Although trading firms around the world are eager to access the country’s commodity exchanges, state restrictions on foreign participation and currency flows have prevented the contracts from gaining global prominence.

The draft guidelines, issued by the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) on Dec. 31, cover increasing the number of futures contracts open to foreign investors, as well as operational procedures and cross-border legal supervision.

The CSRC said the Shanghai Futures Exchange’s crude oil futures would be the first contract qualified foreign investors would be able to trade, adding that they could participate via approved overseas or local brokerages. They may also apply for direct trading licences with the bourse.

The commission did not give details on other domestic futures contracts that would be open to overseas players. It approved the launch of the long-awaited crude oil futures contract last month.

The public has been given until Jan. 31 to send feedback on the draft regulations.

At present, foreign companies have limited access to China’s booming commodities markets. Companies are only allowed to trade via brokers after setting up a locally registered non-financial unit, which requires a hefty amount of registered capital.

The lack of institutional investors has led to China’s futures markets being largely dominated by retail investors, making it prone to speculative trading.

Analysts said the move to bring in foreign players, especially institutional investors, would help develop the sector and usher in international practices.

China is cautiously opening up its economy to market forces and liberalising its financial markets.

Part of that effort saw the creation of the Shanghai free trade zone and the launch of the Shanghai Gold Exchange’s international bourse, allowing foreigners for the first time to directly invest in the country’s gold market using offshore yuan.

China also opened up its equity markets in a landmark trading link with Hong Kong in mid-November, which gives foreign and Chinese retail investors unprecedented access to each of the two exchanges.

(Reporting by Fayen Wong; Editing by Joseph Radford)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/05/us-china-commodities-exchanges-idUSKBN0KE1JQ20150105?LS=EMS1119256

China Plays Down Stimulus Talk While Xi Trumpets New Normal Growth

China isn’t planning to expand fiscal spending to stimulate growth, according to the economic planning agency, as PresidentXi Jinping said the country is able to maintain a “medium to high growth” rate.

While China is promoting key investment projects in seven areas to woo private capital, it isn’t repeating its stimulus program started in 2008, Luo Guosan, an investment official with the National Development and Reform Commission, said at a press briefing today. China is accelerating 300 infrastructure projects valued at 7 trillionyuan ($1.1 trillion) this year, people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified as the decision wasn’t public said this week.

“It’s not a stimulus program by expanding fiscal input, it’s about guiding social capital into investment projects,” Luo said. “It has nothing to do with the 4-trillion-yuan stimulus plan in 2008, and it is fundamentally different from that.”

At the same time, Luo said China is promoting “seven project packages,” including infrastructure, environment and healthcare, and many are underway. Premier Li Keqiang’s government approved the projects as part of a broader 400-venture, 10 trillion yuan plan to run from late 2014 through 2016, said the people familiar with the matter.

President Xi told a Latin America forum in Beijing today that China’s economy has entered a “new normal,” a phrase adopted to reflect a push to manage a slower expansion.

Stable Growth

“Xi Jinping’s fast and comprehensive power consolidation in 2013-14 means a shift of focus to stable economic growth, more proactive fiscal policies, more responsive monetary policies and more aggressive reforms in 2015,” Bank of America Corp. economist Ting Lu wrote in a note issued today.

The NDRC’s Luo declined to specify the size of the reported investment package, saying “the total amount of investment is unable to define.”

Ding Shuang, senior China economist at Citigroup Inc. in Hong Kong, said today’s NDRC interpretation confirmed his view that the investment acceleration isn’t stimulus and is included in 2015’s planned fixed-asset investment.

“It means that there will not be additional fiscal or monetary spending, but they’ll redirect money into targeted areas,” he said. “So this is structural adjustment.”

The NDRC has also relaxed requirements for companies to get approval for outbound investment, the newspaper Economic Observer reported today. Companies only need to register at, rather than get approval from, the NDRC if projects aren’t related to sensitive countries and industries, according to the newspaper, citing revised guidelines.

Currently, the economic planning body requires companies to get approval for all outbound investment projects worth $1 billion or more.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Xin Zhou in Beijing at xzhou68@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Malcolm Scott at mscott23@bloomberg.net Rina Chandran

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2015-01-08/china-plays-down-stimulus-talk-as-xi-trumpets-new-normal-growth.html?LS=EMS1119256

CBP Announces Reciprocal Arrangement with Germany for Trusted Traveler Programs

WASHINGTON—U.S. Customs and Border Protection announces a reciprocal arrangement with Germany for each nation’s trusted traveler program—the U.S. Global Entry program and the German EasyPASS. Global Entry and EasyPASS allow expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers.

“CBP is pleased to further our partnership with Germany by offering Global Entry to German citizens,” said Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske. “Global Entry and the German EasyPASS program allow our officers to focus more on travelers we do not know while at the same time efficiently and securely facilitating low-risk travelers.”

Currently available at 42 U.S. airports and 12 preclearance locations, Global Entry streamlines the screening process at airports for trusted travelers. More than 1.8 million members are enrolled in Global Entry and approximately 50,000 new applications for the program are filed monthly. As an added benefit, Global Entry members are also eligible to participate in the TSA Pre✓™ expedited screening program.

EasyPASS is an automated border control system available to registered third-country nationals when entering Germany. EasyPASS uses eGates as a simple, quick and convenient alternative to traditional border controls. The automated border control system is easy to operate and allows for quicker processing at border crossings. The system does not replace manual border checks, but is an additional service.

U.S. citizens, U.S nationals and U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents may apply for Global Entry as well as citizens of certain countries with which CBP has trusted traveler arrangements, including Mexico, the Netherlands, Panama, the Republic of Korea, and now Germany. Canadian citizens and residents enrolled in NEXUS may also use Global Entry.

To register for EasyPASS, U.S. citizens must visit an enrollment center operated by the German Federal Police in Germany. Enrollment centers for EasyPASS can be found in Terminal 1 at Frankfurt Airport and in Terminal 2 at Munich Airport. To qualify, U.S. citizens must have an electronic passport (epassport) and be at least 18 years of age.

To register for Global Entry, German citizens must first preregister with the German Federal Police at an EasyPASS enrollment center in Germany. After preregistering, the German Federal Police will notify CBP that the applicant is eligible to apply for Global Entry using the Global Online Enrollment System (GOES). The non-refundable application fee for a five-year Global Entry membership is $100 and applications must be made online. Once the application is approved, the applicant will schedule an interview with a CBP officer to determine the applicant’s eligibility. German citizen Global Entry members will have to reregister for Global Entry with the German Federal Police after their second year of membership.

While the goal of Global Entry is to speed travelers through the process, members may be selected for further examination when entering the United States. Any violation of the program’s terms and conditions will result in appropriate enforcement action and revocation of the traveler’s membership privileges.

CBP continues to maximize resources to support a 16 percent growth in international air arrivals since 2009. CBP is working to bring advances in technology and automation, such as Automated Passport Control kiosks, theMobile Passport Control app and the I-94 form automation, to the passenger processing environment while exploring public-private partnerships to help support current and future mission requirements.

http://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/national-media-release/2014-12-29-000000/cbp-announces-reciprocal-arrangement-germany