China says it's scrapping ownership limits on foreign automakers

China slaps 179% charge on US sorghum imports

China just rolled out the welcome mat for Tesla

While cranking up the pressure on US farmers, China also announced plans Tuesday to allow full foreign ownership of automakers in five years, ending some restrictions that have helped fuel its trade dispute with Mr. Trump as it promotes electric vehicle development.

At the moment, overseas carmakers that want into the Chinese market have to either import their wares or form 50-50 joint ventures with local, state-owned partners.

The latest policy move marks a new twist in a see-saw week for Chinese trade.

A preliminary ruling by China's Commerce Ministry said USA sorghum was being sold at improperly low prices, hurting Chinese farmers.

Germany's BMW, which has a big stake in trade relations between Beijing and Washington as the largest exporter of vehicles from the United States to China, welcomed the auto decision.

German and USA carmakers were quick to welcome the news, while reassuring that they won't abandon local partners.

"Nearly all the major global brands have set up their joint-ventures with Chinese partners and it will be unreasonable for them to add many new production lines in the market", Chen said.

Analysts said the main beneficiaries, at least in the short term, would be manufacturers focused on new-energy vehicles, including USA electric carmaker Tesla, which has been seeking to set up its own plant in Shanghai.

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Now China's overhauling its investment rules for foreign auto makers. Tesla declined to comment. However, the loosening of the rule could raise pressure on domestic carmakers like BYD, a local outfit backed by Warren Buffet.

Traditional automakers will need to wait longer for any direct impact and could face more risks than opportunities in ditching their joint venture structures, said James Chao, Asia-Pacific chief at consultancy IHS Markit.

Independent domestic brands such as Geely - which owns Sweden's Volvo Cars - SUV maker Great Wall and electric vehicle brand BYD Auto are developing technology and increasing exports. "Foreign carmakers will be happy as they won't have to share 50% of the profits with their Chinese partners". GM would not be as successful in China on its own. General Motors said its growth in China is a result of working with its partners, and that it would keep doing so.

Japan's Nissan Motor Co said in a statement that it would "monitor how any specific policies develop and will plan accordingly". Companies from Daimler AG and Volkswagen AG to Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. may find it easier to manufacture and do business in China, while local carmakers will be under increased pressure to speed up the building of their own brands.

The restrictions helped fuel its trade dispute with US President Donald Trump, but Chinese officials said the plans were not to ease tensions.

The highly symbolic moves in autos come after President Xi Jinping said last week the country would scrap ownership limits "as soon as possible", exciting global auto brands even as China and the US clash over other trade tariffs.

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

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