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Trade group calls on China to relax foreign ownership caps

A trade association urged Chinese regulators to reconsider foreign ownership limits as the country further opens its market up to overseas investors.

Under Chinese regulations, combined foreign ownership in a listed Chinese company must not surpass 30%, with an individual foreign ownership cap of 10%. If the total foreign ownership in a single company reaches 28%, buy orders for that company are restricted.

ASIFMA, an industry trade group representing financial institutions, said foreign investment in China is expected to increase following the full inclusion of China A shares in global indexes. Global index provider MSCI Inc. has said it will increase the weighting of Chinese shares in its benchmark indexes to 20% from 5% in three stages.

MSCI reportedly urged easing the cap for aggregate offshore ownership, as it removed Han's Laser Technology Industry Group Co. Ltd. from its indexes after the company breached the threshold.

"If these limits are not removed, we are afraid that [foreign institutional investors] may not be able to invest in some of the listed companies, particularly the small-cap companies," according to a paper published by ASIFMA.

China reportedly does not plan to raise the cap.