China opens 1,000 projects worth $318bn to foreign private finance

China’s top economic planning agency has revealed detailed information on more than 1,000 proposed infrastructure projects that will be open to both private and foreign investors.

The move is China’s latest step toward opening up its predominantly state-run economy.

The proposed public-private partnerships (PPPs) list is expected to bring in private finance for projects including water conservation, transport, public services, natural resources and the environment.

The projects are expected to be worth a total of $317.75bn, said officials from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), according to newspaper China Daily.

The list of PPP projects in 29 areas of the country should accelerate the shift of China’s economic model and guide capital into the provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, said the commission.

Last year China invited foreign firms and investors to bid for 80 state projects.

Xu Kunlin, head of investment in the NDRC, told China Daily today that foreign investors will be welcomed, "as long as they belong to categories that are encouraged or permitted in the Catalog for the Guidance of Foreign Investment". Policymakers hope PPP investments will counter slowing economic growth in China and declining investment.

More than 34 local governments have proposed PPP projects since August 2014 but only around one-eighth have so far signed contracts, because of fears over low returns and long payback periods, according to a report from Minsheng Securities Co Ltd.

This latest list includes a project to build subway lines in Hangzhou and Beijing.

The NDRC said it had designated 12 of the total 1,043 projects as pilot schemes, to perfect policies over the next two years.

Faced with mounting local government debt and a pressing need to fund urbanization and cope with a rapidly ageing population, China released two PPP guidelines last year.

Earlier this month, the State Council, China’s cabinet, said the government will streamline approval procedures for PPPs and that PPPs in public services will enjoy tax breaks and other financial rewards.

PPP project operators are encouraged to directly raise money from the capital market, and social security funds and insurance premiums are allowed to invest in these projects, according to the cabinet.

Photograph: Beijing’s subway at peak time. The list of available PPPs include subway projects in Hangzhou and Beijing (Jorge Láscar/Wikimedia Commons)

Story for GCR? Get in touch via email: [email protected]

Latest articles in Trends