BlackRock Inc. won approval from Chinese regulators to initiate operations at its wholly-owned mutual-fund business in the country, paving the way for the New York-based asset manager to start selling funds to individual investors in China before the end of this year.

The go-ahead is the latest in a series of steps taken by China to allow US banks and investment firms, such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., greater access to its markets following last year’s trade accord between Washington and Beijing.

BlackRock, the world’s largest money manager with $9 trillion in assets under management as of end-march, has made expansion in China a priority. It secured a nod from the China Securities Regulatory Commission last August to establish the mutual-fund business, which is now permitted to start selling funds.

“We look forward to sharing our global investment expertise and offering more differentiated investment solutions to Chinese investors,” BlackRock Chairman and Chief Executive Larry Fink stated in a statement on Friday.

The US behemoth is among the first foreign firms to reach this milestone. Other global investment houses that are also setting up wholly-owned mutual funds in China include Fidelity International and the asset-management arm of JPMorgan.