China waives income tax for foreign investors trading yuan crude futures

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will waive income tax for three years for foreign investors trading the country’s new crude futures contract, the Ministry of Finance said on Tuesday, in a bid to attract overseas capital for the much anticipated launch.

The start of trading on Monday will mark the culmination of a years-long push by China to create Asia’s first oil futures benchmark, and is aimed at giving the world’s biggest oil importer more clout in pricing crude sold to Asia.

It will potentially give the Shanghai International Energy Exchange (INE), which will operate the new contract, a share of the trillions of dollars each year in oil futures trading.

The finance ministry said foreign brokers will be exempted from paying income tax on commissions they earn from dealing in the new Shanghai crude futures.

The tax exemption could help encourage foreign players to engage with the new contract, despite concerns about issues such as foreign exchange conversion and potential capital curbs.

The number of foreign investors seeking to open non-resident accounts to allow trading has so far been below expectations, a source at CITIC, one of eight banks that is handling margin deposits for foreign investors, told Reuters. The source declined to be named as he is not authorized to talk with media.

The oil market is closely watching the liquidity of the contract, as institutional investors and brokers expect trading volumes and open interest to be relatively small compared with China’s iron ore, copper and steel futures contracts.

China in recent days has provided more details on the contract, including margins, trading limits and transaction fees, and has approved the use of six bonded storage warehouses.

Reporting by Meng Meng and Aizhu Chen; editing by Richard Pullin