China Speeds up Financial Market Reform amid Escalating Trade Tension

China will expedite reform of the financial market announced last November, with some measures becoming effective before the end of 2018, according to the speech by Yi Gang, Governor of the People’s Bank of China at the Boao Forum on Wednesday.

Yi said that China would remove the limits on foreign firms’ ownership of local banks and asset management firms as well as allowing foreign banks to set up local branches in the country within a few months.

One of the measures that would be effective in the next few months is the lifting of the ceiling on foreign ownership for securities, futures, and insurance firms to 51% .

The update came amid escalating trade tension between China and the US, adding a clearer timeline to the plan—announced last November—to lift the ceiling on foreign ownership in securities, fund management and futures firms to 51%.

The original announcement only stated that ownership caps would be erased three years after the new limit of 51% became effective.

According to Yi, the financial sector reform was partly intended to balance trade with the US.

Last month, the PBOC also announced that it will allow foreign firms to enter China's US$27 trillion payments market and treat them as local businesses.