China to scrap ownership limits on foreign auto makers

Kim Jong Un North Korea China

China announced a timeline for lifting ownership limits on foreign automakers Tuesday, meeting a longtime demand of the United States and other countries seeking better access for their companies in the world's biggest vehicle market.

The threatened tariffs on a 150 billion worth of Chinese goods, and 50 billion of U.S. goods, would dent economic growth on both sides of the Pacific, analysts say.

Today (April 17), the Chinese commerce ministry announced the importers of United States sorghum must pay a hefty deposit worth 178.6% of the value of shipments, effective tomorrow.

The ministry launched the investigation in February in what many observers said was meant as a retaliation for the Trump administration's tariffs on Chinese solar panels and washing machines late past year.

A preliminary ruling by the ministry found that United States companies had dumped sorghum grain on the Chinese market and such imports had caused substantial damage to the domestic industry, Xinhua news agency reported. China is one of the biggest foreign markets for USA sorghum growers.

Data from the MOC showed USA sorghum exports to China surged from 317,000 tonnes in 2013 to 4.76 million tonnes in 2017, while export prices have slumped 31 percent during the period, which led to a fall in domestic prices that hurt local industries.

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

This will be followed by the removal of ownership obstacles in 2022 for makers of commercial vehicles and passenger cars.

The NDRC said the shipbuilding industry would this year scrap foreign ownership restrictions on firms designing, making and repairing vessels.

China now forces foreign auto makers to set up 50-50 joint ventures with Chinese partners if they want to locally produce cars to avoid 25% tariffs. China is one of the biggest foreign markets for U.S. sorghum growers.

Output at China's factories and workshops expanded 6.8 percent year-on-year for the first quarter, matching the expansion seen during the same period last year, but below the 6.9 percent forecast by Bloomberg News. "More or less, Chinese brands already compete with them on a similar level in electric cars".

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