China eases restrictions on offshore lending in FTZ
Last Updated: 2014-03-03 22:53 | Global Times
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China's foreign currency regulator eased restrictions for companies registered in Shanghai's recently established free trade zone (FTZ), increasing the amount of foreign currency companies registered in the zone can lend in offshore markets, according to an announcement posted on the FTZ's website.

The new regulations issued by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) increase the amount of funds companies can lend to 50 percent of net ownership equity, up from 30 percent. The rules also allow domestic banks registered in the zone to use up to 10 percent of foreign exchange held in a zone account for investment in China.

China has been taking measures to make it easier for multinationals and domestic companies in China to manage their foreign exchange, in particular by making it easier to borrow and lend offshore.

SAFE released a consultation paper detailing plans to make it easier for domestic companies to guarantee debt incurred overseas in mid-February, shortly after it liberalized policies allowing intra-company loans across borders, which effectively allows firms to move currency to where it is most needed.

It is unclear to what extent the new policies will specifically resuscitate interest in the Shanghai FTZ, originally touted as the most significant reform pilot in decades but now widely considered a disappointment given the cautious scope and scale of the reforms.

There are already multiple pilot projects testing ways to liberalize China's capital account, not all limited to the zone, and at the same time many other Chinese cities are applying to launch their own FTZs.

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