China will merge its banking and insurance regulators

Finance


China said it will merge its banking and insurance regulators, according to a parliament document released on Tuesday, in a series of proposed changes in the
biggest ministry shake-up in years.

In a long-awaited move to streamline and tighten oversight of the financial system in the world’s second-biggest economy, China will also transfer some of the banking and insurance regulators’ roles to the central bank, documents showed.

In much-anticipated plans to create seven new ministries and a raft of government agencies announced on Tuesday, one of the most significant changes was creation of the national markets supervision management bureau.

The new body will decide on antimonopoly and pricing issues, replacing the roles played by the three national antitrust regulators: the National Development & Reform Commission (NDRC),
the Ministry of Commerce and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC).

Unifying the structure under one agency, rather than handing the responsibility to one of the three existing watchdogs, reflects the growing importance of the issue for the government.

China will also form a powerful new competition regulator in a bid to ramp up oversight of mergers and acquisitions and price-fixing as the world’s second-largest economy seeks to make policymaking more efficient and coordinated.

Since the beginning of last year, Beijing has cracked down on leverage and risky market practices, with China’s various regulators releasing a flurry of new rules in an attempt to rein
in risks.

China’s financial system has become increasingly tough to regulate due to its sheer breadth. It has grown rapidly in size and complexity, emerging as one of the world’s largest with financial assets at nearly 470 percent of gross domestic product, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The latest ministry shake-up also includes the creation of a new immigration management bureau and the restructuring of the national intellectual property rights bureau.

The proposals will be formally approved by the parliament on Saturday.

China is restructuring the responsibilities, roles and powers of its state institutions to make them more efficient. President Xi Jinping’s top economic adviser, Liu He, said that such reform would be profound.

— CNBC contributed reporting to this article.



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