(Bloomberg) -- A day after China’s top regulators renewed pledges to allow more foreign competition into their financial sector, global bankers and economists will assemble in Shanghai to discuss the policy and how it will play out in an era of rising protectionism.
Economics Nobel Prize winner Paul Romer, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s former Chair Sheila Bair, and Mizuho Financial Group Inc.’s Chairman Yasuhiro Sato are among speakers at the Lujiazui Forum on Friday. On the list of topics: How should China choose the path and pace of its financial opening?
Away from the high-profile gathering, more than a dozen consultants, lawyers, and executives working with overseas firms in China said they or their clients have a list of what they’d like to see, including:
- Faster licensing and full control topped the list of what foreign companies want most from Chinese policy. They want to be able to open branches more easily across the country, a process that takes as long as one year because local governments need to issue permits. Financial firms also seek 100% ownership of their units, which will give them absolute control over strategy
- Most respondents don’t see the trade war affecting China’s commitment to internationalize; some, however, cautioned that the frictions could slow the process
- Removal of capital controls and less government intervention are also on wishlists though less likely in the near term, they said
“The licensing process is very slow,” Allianz SE Chief Executive Officer Oliver Baete said earlier this year. “After we get the national license we need to apply for the provincial licenses one by one.”
While corners of China’s financial industry have been open to foreigners for more than a decade, the latest round of opening came on the heels of U.S. President Donald Trump’s first state visit in 2017. Central bank Governor Yi Gang put flesh on the bones of the proposal in April 2018.
The People’s Bank of China will support removing foreign ownership caps in brokerages and fund management companies in a trial in Shanghai, Yi said at the Lujiazui Forum on Thursday. Earlier that day, China’s securities regulator approved Morgan Stanley’s application to become the largest shareholder in its Chinese fund management joint venture.
Bloomberg Intelligence estimates that -- barring a major economic slowdown or change of course -- foreign banks and securities companies could be raking in profits of more than $10 billion a year in China by 2030.
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