China to widen foreign access to A-shares

The November 5-10 expo will take place in Shanghai

China's securities regulator said it will allow individual foreign investors working in the country to buy and sell yuan-dominated Chinese A-shares, the latest incremental step by Beijing to widen access to its long-cloistered equities markets.

The change would go into effect on September 15 and also applies to foreign employees of Chinese-listed companies who are working for those firms outside the country, the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) said in a statement issued late Wednesday.

Previously, foreign access to Chinese stocks has been largely through B-shares, which are denominated in foreign currencies and geared toward international investors, while only qualified foreign institutional investors could buy into the larger pool of A-shares.

But a number of steps in recent years have widened the door, including the establishment of programmes under which international investors on Hong Kong's more open stock market can buy some shares on China's exchanges in Shanghai and Shenzhen, and vice-versa.

A similar connection between London's exchange and the mainland Chinese bourses also has been proposed.

In June more than 200 Chinese companies debuted on the emerging market index compiled by MSCI, which is expected to lead to billions of dollars of new investment in those Chinese shares by global funds that match their portfolios with MSCI's indices.

The CSRC said the move was being taken to "deepen the opening up of the capital market, enrich the investment sources in the capital market, broaden channels for capital access, and optimise the structure of the capital market."

China has taken its liberalisation steps partly due to foreign pressure, partly to help promote the maturation of its often volatile markets, and partly to increase the global profile of its yuan currency.

China has made additional liberalisation pledges since the US administration of President Donald Trump began pressuring Beijing to open its markets.

The China-US trade confrontation has pressured Chinese stocks this year, pushing the Shanghai index to its lowest levels in around two and a half years.