Financial market access set to be broadened further

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China will step up efforts to broaden market access for foreign investors into its financial sector and to create a predictable and fair business environment for all market players, vice governor of the central bank said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the Fortune Global Forum on Wednesday, Pan Gongsheng, vice-governor of the People's Bank of China, said the government "will make great strides" to grant more market access to foreign investors and will give them equal treatment compared to domestic firms.

"Past experience shows that the Chinese market is big enough and capable of allowing full competition," he said. "We are looking to achieve win-win results for both domestic and foreign participants."

Granting more market access means massive business opportunities for foreign firms eyeing the evolving sector.

"That was a very welcoming message for us," said Gordon French, head of Global Banking and Markets, Asia-Pacific of HSBC. "It's the same when we do business in Hong Kong, in Paris and other places-if we can do business in a fair business environment and then we are able to do it well."

As the first foreign bank to get approval for a majority-owned securities joint venture in China, HSBC is one of the firms that could benefit from the progress in opening up the market to foreign firms.

The first approval gives some privileges to HSBC compared to other banks as it allows the company to better deploy its strengths, provide better services to existing large clients-global institutions planning to tap Chinese markets.

French said he sees potential capital market reforms, more convertibility under capital account, and sustained efforts to promote low carbon development-which reflects a key business for the bank, sustainable financing.

Analysts are expecting more radical steps to push the reform forward, as the timing is right for China to create a level-playing field.

Huang Yiping, a central bank advisor, said more efforts are needed to turn policy signals into concrete steps.

"Foreign investment in the domestic market is totally different from short-term capital inflows," said Huang. "The regulatory bodies are able to equalize treatment in venture shares, issuance of licenses and scope of business."

Some possible steps include allowing foreign securities and insurance firms to set up wholly-owned units in China and streamline approval process for acquiring licenses, according to Huang.

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