2013-01-15 07:44 (China Daily) -- A major increase in overseas capital will be allowed into the domestic A-share market, China's top securities regulator said in Hong Kong on Monday.
The A-share quota may increase at least nine to 10 times for the two key investment programs, the renminbi-qualified foreign institutional investor and the qualified foreign institutional investor, Guo Shuqing, chairman of China Securities Regulatory Commission, said at the Asian Financial Forum.
The combined quota for the programs currently accounts for only between 1.5 to 1.6 percent of the total capitalization of the A-share market.
The internationalization of the yuan will also be continued and Chinese investors will be encouraged to invest overseas, Guo said.
K C Chan, Hong Kong's secretary for financial services and the treasury, said the renminbi investor program had been well received by the market since its launch.
Financial institutions in Hong Kong had expressed keen interest in participating, he said.
Chan said that Hong Kong welcomes any measure to lift the quota as it will help further develop the city's financial market and investor appeal.
The renminbi investor program, introduced at the end of 2011 with an initial quota of 20 billion yuan ($3.2 billion), raised to 70 billion yuan last year, allows foreign investors to use offshore yuan to buy mainland securities.
The qualified investor program, launched in 2003, had seen its accumulated quota reach $37.4 billion as of December.
Since the commission approved the qualified investor program to trade stocks in the mainland market, they have become the third-largest group of institutional investors of China's A-shares, according to Tommy Ong, senior vice-president of the DBS Bank.
A-shares will be the priority for foreign investors if they want to benefit from China's economic development and reforms, Ong said.
The Shanghai Composite Index, the mainland benchmark index, rose 3 percent or 68.74 points on Monday to 2311.74 at the close.
Based on what Guo said on Monday, investment quotas may be lifted "sooner than we expected", Moody's senior analyst Ivan Chung told China Daily.
"It is likely there will be some move (in increasing the quota) within this year," said Chung, adding that the quota is likely to be gradually increased rather than increased by 10 times at once.
Chung pointed out that most investors are expecting some new policies may be introduced after March 2013.
Guo also said the mainland regulators will gradually expand the Qualified Domestic Institutional Investor (QDII) program, and launch the qualified domestic individual investor (or QDII2) on a trial basis, allowing mainland individual investors to trade Hong Kong stocks directly, he said, without offering any details.
Xu Hongcai, a senior economist with the government's top think tank China Center for International Economic Exchanges said on Monday that it is possible to launch a pilot program of the second phase of the QDII program in the first half of this year.