News: Agricultural Bank of China is to sell off non-performing assets worth around CNY10bn (US$1.6bn) in a move expected to be followed by rivals amid a slowing economy, according to China Daily. China's third-largest bank said that it intends to offload a total of seven loans and 19 properties held as collateral on the Beijing Financial Assets Exchange. The news also comes as investors closely watch a likely increase in non-performing loan ratios, as the delinquent loan ratio increased to 1.35% at the end of June 2013 from 1.21% at the end of 2012.
BMI View: The newly-opened Shanghai Free Trade Zone has offered hope of a new wave of liberalisation in the Chinese economy, with the financial sector being the main area of focus for potential reform measures. We have long argued that the financial sector is in need of significant reform, which could help unlock much-needed productivity gains in the Chinese economy. The new zone is a step in the right direction in this regard, although details of the likely reform measures are thin on the ground.