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Beijing opens service sector wider to foreign capital

(Xinhua)    15:00, April 12, 2019

BEIJING, April 12 (Xinhua) -- At the Beijing Capital International Airport, maintenance workers were busy conducting a thorough check on the tires, engines and body of an Air France airplane, before giving it a go-ahead for a flight to Paris two hours later.

They are employees of Beijing Line Maintenance International, China's first foreign-controlled joint venture in aircraft maintenance, which was launched by Air France Industries KLM Engineering and Maintenance and Beijing General Aviation Co Ltd (BGAC) in 2017.

"The key technology, personnel and management of the joint venture all come from the European side," said Li Wei, vice general-manager of the joint venture. "A foreign-controlled joint venture has given full play to foreign expertise in management and technology."

Air France-KLM, a major global air transport player, entered the Chinese market after establishing a repair workshop in the 1990s. But over the years, it has struggled to find a local partner to expand its business in the country, partly due to China's restrictions on foreign capital.

After the central government allowed Beijing to pilot policies of opening the service industry wider in 2015, Air France-KLM jumped on the opportunity and partnered with BGAC to found the joint venture two years later.

Last year, the joint venture provided 1,400 maintenance services for four foreign airliners, compared with more than 600 in 2017.

"We enjoy the same policy on taxes and talent recruitment as domestic firms, which helped the growth of our business," Li said. "This year, we plan to start business in the new airport in Daxing district."

In recent years, a growing number of foreign-funded firms have benefited from the pilot program to settle in Beijing. In 2018, the world's three major rating agencies -- Fitch Ratings, S&P Global and Moody's -- registered wholly-owned subsidiaries in the capital.

"The service industry has become more open, attractive and competitive," said Sun Yao, deputy director with the Beijing Municipal Commerce Bureau.

With the widening opening-up measures, Beijing's service sector has been contributing more to the capital's economic growth.

In 2018, the sector's value-added output accounted for 81 percent of local GDP, up 3.1 percentage points on 2014. Last year, Beijing's service trade grew about 10 percent year on year.

Building on the experience from the pilot program starting in 2015, Beijing is well-positioned to pursuit all-round opening up and high-quality economic development.

In January this year, the central government approved another three-year pilot program for Beijing to continue opening up its service sector wider to the world.

The capital should intensify efforts to streamline administration, delegate power to lower levels and improve regulation and services, seek to open the service sector wider, and create a sound business environment, the State Council said in a statement.

According to the pilot program, market access to the Beijing's service sector will be relaxed in fields including leasing and business services, information technology services and financial services.

The municipal government is encouraged to take bold measures to gain a more replicable experience for opening up the service sector and developing an open economy.

The new round of opening-up policy and widening market entry in the service sector has encouraged more foreign firms to invest in Beijing.

In March, Bank of Beijing said it planned to join hands with ING Bank N.V. to invest 3 billion yuan (447 million U.S. dollars) in setting up a banking joint venture, in which ING Bank would hold a 51 percent stake.

The joint venture will gain experience from ING Bank's direct banking service and take advantage of financial technology to build itself into a new digital banking brand.

Bank of Beijing said it would strive to make the joint venture a model in implementing China's major opening-up policies for the financial sector.

Similar efforts in major Chinese cities to relax market entry rules for foreign capital in the service sector have made the country an increasingly attractive destination for foreign investment.

In 2018, China advanced to a global ranking of 46 in terms of ease of doing business, up from 78 in 2017, according to a World Bank Group report.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Sheng Chuyi, Bianji)

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