BEIJING — The Chinese government on Oct 8 decided to streamline administrative approval, delegate more power to lower government levels and loosen rules on foreign investment in an attempt to revive the economy.
Premier Li Keqiang called for efforts to cut red tape and simplify procedures for new investment projects, according to a statement issued after an executive meeting of the State Council.
Provincial governments will approve investment projects related to container terminals, vehicle engines, urban transit systems and inland water transportation, according to the new regulations.
The China Railway Corporation will be allowed to make decisions regarding railways, bridges and tunnels, the statement said.
More private investment will be encouraged in various sectors, including medical care, education, culture and sports.
China will prohibit new projects related to industries struggling with overcapacity, such as steel, coal and electrolytic aluminum sectors.
In principle, no new gasoline-powered vehicle factories will be allowed to open.
In 2013 and 2014, the central government moved a raft of administrative approval procedures, and delegated approval power, to lower government levels.
The meeting stressed measures to improve the country’s business environment. More efforts are needed to create a level playing field for both domestic and foreign companies, the statement said.
Following China’s revisions to four laws regulating inbound investment last month, the meeting agreed that some administrative approvals will no longer be necessary for foreign investors setting up businesses on the Chinese mainland.
Such investors are now only required to report business plans to local regulators, as long as their business is not on a “negative list.” The government estimates that this means more than 95 percent of procedures will be cut.
The practice has been proved satisfactory in pilot free trade zones in Shanghai, Guangdong, Tianjin and Fujian.
Despite an economic slowdown, China remains an attractive destination for foreign companies due to the country’s continued opening up as well as the improving business environment.
Foreign direct investment in the mainland during the first eight months of 2016 increased 4.5 percent year on year to $85.9 billion, up from 4.3 percent in the first seven months, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
Altogether 18,538 new foreign-funded enterprises were established in the country over the same period, up 10.2 percent on a year earlier.
The government will continue to improve services and supervision to expand the country’s opening up, the statement said.
In addition, the meeting pledged efforts to modernize agriculture, encouraging diversified business models and the mechanization and informatization of the sector. Financing support will also be increased.
China will also curb agricultural pollution by adopting strict rules on the use of fertilizers and additives, and strengthen the supervision of farm produce.
The government will work to enhance farmers’ incomes and guarantee their urban housing demands, the statement said.