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BEIJING, China, Dec 14 — In the wake of the Central Economic Work Conference, expectations among business leaders, former officials and luminaries of academia are rising that China will seek to enhance the confidence of foreign-funded companies and further engage them in the country’s pursuit of high-quality economic development.

With details of the conference now known, they said they expect China to further deepen its reform and opening-up policy to attract more foreign investment, which will in turn create more growth opportunities for foreign investors.

The conference saw Chinese leaders finalize priorities for the economic work in 2024. They said China still has to overcome some difficulties and challenges to further revive the economy. Those difficulties and challenges include lack of effective demand, lackluster social expectations, and rising complexity, severity and uncertainty of the external environment.

Yet favorable conditions outweigh unfavorable factors in China’s development, and the fundamental trend of the economic recovery and long-term positive outlook has not changed, the meeting said, urging greater confidence.

The conference also called for more efforts to consolidate the overall performance of foreign trade and foreign capital.

Market access to telecommunications, medical and other service industries shall be eased, while efforts should be made to align the local scenario with global high-standard economic and trade rules, resolve issues like concerns over cross-border data flows and equal participation in government procurement, and make “invest in China” a popular choice, the meeting said.

Zhao Zhongxiu

“China is expected to strengthen efforts to further stabilize foreign direct investment, especially that in high-end areas like advanced manufacturing, against the backdrop of uncertainties in Sino-US relations, and the adoption of so-called de-risking and China-plus strategies by some,” said Zhao Zhongxiu, president of the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.

Stabilizing FDI

“We must unwaveringly expand high-standard institutional opening-up and sign more free trade agreements with trading partners, to strengthen international cooperation and add resilience to China’s industrial and supply chains.”

China, while stabilizing FDI, must boost the confidence of market entities, especially those in the private sector. Through improvements to both supply and demand sides, the country should fully tap innovation potentials of enterprises to shore up the Chinese economic recovery and industrial and consumption upgrades, he said.

Wei Jianguo, former vice-minister of commerce, said the conference has sent a strong signal that more policy measures may be announced next year to deepen reform and institutional opening-up.

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Zhou Mi, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said foreign investors are expected to play a more productive role in the Chinese economy, as the country will strengthen cooperation and interplay between Chinese and foreign enterprises through increased market openness, especially in areas like digital trade, telecommunications, cross-border e-commerce and healthcare.

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