The Chinese government has removed restrictions on foreign ownership in the port agency business as part of its liberalisation of the services industry.

The rollback of domestic ownership requirements was announced last week by Ministry of Transport officials at the annual China Navigation Day, a national event held at the port of Ningbo.

Local industry players say the changes were no surprise and will have little practical effect in the extremely competitive sector.

“Previously, international port agency companies operating in China had to do so through joint ventures but now there will be no legal need,” the head of one large domestic port agency operation tells TradeWinds.