China’s Parliament took up on Friday a draft foreign investment law that could help smooth out trade talks with the U.S. as the world’s top two economies angle towards a deal.
The legislation was presented at a session of the National People’s Congress in Beijing and is expected to be approved on March 15, the last day of the annual parliamentary meeting.
The Bill will ban the illegal transfer of technology and “illegal government interference” in foreign businesses, a key point in Washington’s contention that Beijing steals American technology. The law aims to assuage concerns about China’s business environment for foreign firms, but earlier versions of the draft drew criticism from some business groups.
‘No forced tech transfer’
The law “clearly stipulates that the state protects the intellectual property rights of foreign investors and foreign-invested enterprises and bars the use of administrative means to force technology transfer”, said Ning Jizhe, Vice-Chairman of China’s state planner, the National Development and Reform Commission. “This will certainly provide a more comprehensive and more powerful rule of law guarantee for foreign investment interests,” Mr. Ning told reporters earlier this week.
Beijing sees the law as a tool to attract more foreign investment as its economy slows.
China’s Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday laid out a lower growth target of 6% to 6.5% this year, down from 6.6% growth in 2018.
Official data on Friday showed China’s exports and imports plummeted much more than expected in February, adding to worries.
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday that trade negotiations were “moving along pretty well”.