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Double-digit pickup in FDI likely this year, expert says

Foreign direct investment in China is expected to see double-digit growth in 2018, buoyed by the country's forthcoming round of high-level opening-up measures, an expert has said.

The comments came after Liu He, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said in Davos in January that the country would take concrete measures to further open up.

Wei Jianguo, a former vice-minister of commerce, told China Daily: "A new wave of reform and opening-up measures that the Chinese government has been researching this year will exceed international expectations. The policy of attracting foreign investment, in particular, will achieve a breakthrough."

This year, some local governments, such as in South China's Guangdong province, have introduced measures to improve the business environment to attract foreign investors, Wei added. He is the vice-president of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, a leading think tank.

This year marks China's 40th anniversary of implementing its reform and opening-up strategy since 1978. The economic landscape since then has dramatically changed.

FDI into the Chinese mainland soared to a record 877.56 billion yuan ($138 billion) in 2017, up by 7.9 percent from 2016, according to data from the Ministry of Commerce. FDI into the high-tech industry was notably strong, up by 61.7 percent from a year earlier, the data show.

The substantial rise in FDI shows the country's concentrated efforts to improve the overall business environment for foreign investors, the ministry said in a statement on its website.

Wei further stressed the significance of the first China International Import Expo, due to be held in November in Shanghai.

"It is a responsible action. China seeks balanced trade with other countries, rather than a trade surplus," he added. "The upcoming event illustrates China's commitment to facilitating mutual benefit and a win-win partnership with other countries and regions. It is conducive to both international trade flows and the recovery of the world economy."

Another substantial step to propel China's opening-up was to set up free trade ports, Wei said. "Specially designed policies in terms of market access, financial systems and taxation would be needed."

The decadeslong effort in opening-up has been shoring up foreign investors' confidence in the world's second-largest economy.

"China's 40 years of reform and opening-up have provided numerous opportunities to General Motors," Matt Tsien, president of GM China, said. "The success of our joint ventures, like SAIC General Motors Corp and SAIC-GMWuling Automobile Co, is the best proof of China's economic opportunities and our long-term commitment to working with local partners to provide world-leading mobility solutions to our customers in China."

The company looks forward to deploying more advanced technologies in this important market, in line with its vision of a future of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion, Tsien added.