Firms laud liberalisation of overseas trade

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 January, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 January, 1999, 12:00am

The mainland's booming private sector yesterday applauded the government's announcement it would, for the first time since 1949, grant selected private firms the right to conduct foreign trade.

'It will help us increase exports, cut our costs and make us more competitive, raise our efficiency and expand the scale of our business,' New Hope chairman Liu Yonghao said.

Feed-grain producer New Hope was one of the selected firms.

The foreign trade and economic co-operation ministry had given the right to 20 large private firms with a registered capital of 1.36 billion yuan (about HK$1.26 billion), the Peoples Daily said yesterday.

The companies make, among other products, animal feed, foodstuffs, medicine, metallurgy, construction materials, textiles, garments and computer software. Eleven are based in Sichuan, five in Shanghai, two in Beijing and one each in Guangdong and Jiangxi provinces.

The ministry said the decision, following the redesignation of the private sector as 'an important part' of the economy by President Jiang Zemin at the 15th Communist Party congress in September 1997, would help all sections of the economy develop together.

The ministry announced late last year that it would give such licences as from the start of this year to private companies with registered capital and net assets of at least 8.5 million yuan, exports for two successive years of at least 50 million yuan and US$1 million and staff qualified to do foreign trade.