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China streamlines procedures for foreign investment

Zhang Yue
Updated: Oct 8,2016 10:25 PM     english.gov.cn

The Chinese government will further streamline approval procedures for foreign investment across the country to attract more overseas investment and improve China’s business environment.

A new legislative guideline was approved during the State Council’s executive meeting on Oct 8, chaired by Premier Li Keqiang.

“Our country also needs advanced technology and ideas to press ahead with development,” Premier Li said. “This is part of the government’s crucial efforts in streamlining administration and delegating powers, as well as improving our business environment.”

The new guideline is a revision and expansion of the existing administrative measures for foreign investment in China’s four Free Trade Zones (FTZ) in Shanghai, Guangdong, Tianjin and Fujian, turning the three-year pilot measures into a legislative guideline.

According to the new guideline, those interested in investing in China no longer have to go through approval procedures if they invest in non-restricted sectors according to the Catalog of Industries for Foreign Investment, and do not contradict the special requirements regarding equity rights and level of management in the Catalog, which was issued in 2015.

The new guideline is aimed at helping foreign investors reduce concern about discriminatory industrial policies in China and calls for more effective government services for foreign investment.

The importance of encouraging foreign investment has been frequently stressed by the Premier, and was most recently brought up when he was addressing an audience in New York.

“We are paying equal attention to ‘bringing in’ and ‘going global’, and for a developing country like China, it is still important to attract massive foreign investment, which can help boost the Chinese economy,” Premier Li said.

“We hope that China will remain an attractive destination for foreign investment. We need foreign investment for economic growth, and more important, we need new managerial expertise and advanced technologies that foreign investment brings,” he said.

The “foreign investment negative list” was first applied in Shanghai FTZ in 2013, the first FTZ in China. It explored paths to better attract overseas investors with the “foreign investment negative list” guideline, which was made as a temporary administrative measures for FTZ foreign investment regulations. Foreign investors only need to register their investment in the government system via the internet, as long as their projects are not on the negative list.

This was later applied to the other three FTZs in Guangdong, Tianjin and Fujian, and was expected to be revised and applied across the country after three years of testing.

Official data shows that such measures have greatly boosted foreign investment in these areas. From January to August 2016, actual use of foreign capital in the four FTZs in total reached $8.59 billion, accounting for almost 10 percent of the national total.

A third party evaluation also shows the simplified measures have brought vigor to foreign investment. Online registration takes only three working days, while the previous approval procedures usually took no less than 20 working days.

Once the new guideline is put in place, administrative procedures required for registration will be reduced by 95 percent.

The decision to revise the regulations was approved by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress early in September.

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