11/09/2017 18:57 EST | Updated 11/09/2017 19:40 EST

China to ease curbs on foreign business in finance, autos

BEIJING — China will ease restrictions on foreign ownership stakes in the financial sector and reduce tariffs on automotive imports, a senior Chinese official said Friday, following criticism from the country's trading partners.

Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said at a briefing following a state visit to China by President Donald Trump that China will lift limits on foreign ownership stakes in securities, fund managers and futures companies from 49 per cent to 51 per cent and end restrictions after three years.

China will also "abolish" limits on foreign ownership stakes in banks, Zhu said, though he did not say when the move would take effect. Until now a single foreign investor could own no more than 20 per cent of one bank, and a bank could have no more than 25 per cent total foreign ownership.

Beijing will also gradually reduce tariffs on automotive imports, Zhu said, without providing details.

"This opening up is decisive and the effect will be far-reaching," Zhu told reporters.

The moves appeared aimed at addressing foreign complaints about China's trade surpluses and market barriers. Trump has made narrowing the U.S. trade deficit with China — $347 billion last year — a priority. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that was a "central focus" of Trump's talks with President Xi Jinping.

Prior to Trump's visit, the American Chamber of Commerce had expressed concern the president's focus on trade in goods might mean he paid pays less attention to equally important issues such as complaints about restrictions on access to finance, health care and other industries in China's state-dominated economy.