Foreign rail firms shunted as "Made in China" mantra gathers pace
* Chinese cities tighten rules for metro rail tenders
* Foreign invested firms scored down in contract bids
* Railways a priority sector for China tech export drive
By Brenda Goh
SHANGHAI, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Foreign firms say they are struggling to gain access to China's vast railway market as the country, seeking to transform its domestic industry into an export powerhouse, tightens the bidding criteria on rail tenders.
The complaints echo similar concerns raised in other industries including technology and renewable energy, and highlight what some foreign companies see as an uneven playing field when operating in China.
Four rail suppliers with offshore funding said they were finding it harder to win contracts thanks to the proliferation of government-supported rivals, with at least one saying it was already experiencing discrimination.
"In the last 1-2 years there have been tendencies to disregard foreign-invested companies as Chinese companies, and to prefer Chinese-invested companies versus foreign-invested companies," Ansgar Brockmeyer, board chairman of German brake maker Knorr-Bremse's Asia Pacific arm, told Reuters.
Foreign participation in China's rail market has for the last decade been limited to minority stakes in joint ventures or as sub-suppliers of domestic players, often with the condition that they transfer technology to local partners. Continued...