China is still one of the most attractive destinations for foreign investment because of its streamlined administration and trade facilitation, Premier Li Keqiang said on his third trip to the Shanghai Free Trade Pilot Zone.
The Premier was speaking at a General Electric technology park, during his third visit on Nov 21 to the pilot zone in three consecutive years after it was established to boost China’s reform and opening-up.
GE has a research and development center as well as its Asia-Pacific management center in Shanghai. GE China has more than 30 manufacturing bases that receive orders worth $8.2 billion and export goods worth $5 billion.
Premier Li said GE’s choice has demonstrated that China is still one of the best destinations for foreign investors, and the country has 170 million people who have received higher and secondary education, which is a precious resource.
Streamlined administrative processes and simplified customs clearance are two other factors expected to attract foreign investment.
On Nov 22, Premier Li visited E&P International, an online port management company that runs the international trade single window in the pilot zone. The time required to declare goods has been reduced to half an hour from one day, and shipping to two hours from two days.
The Premier said customs clearance should boost the country’s imports and exports, as exports have been declining due to weak demand from the international market.
On Nov 21, Premier Li also visited the zone’s market supervision bureau, which has loosened requirements for certificates but tightened monitoring to prevent illegal practices in the marketplace. For example, the bureau integrated five hotlines for consumer complaints and price monitoring into one platform to boost efficiency.
Lu Jiangli, an employee of the bureau, said the number of complaints received has almost tripled since 2014 as consumers found it easy to get their problems solved via the new platform. The platform has not only facilitated consumers and enterprises, but also strengthened market vitality, Premier Li said.
Investment facilitation and trade liberalization have been concerns of the Premier since taking office amid sluggish world economy as protectionism is rising due to shrinking volume of exports. Premier Li has repeatedly pledged his support to free trade and liberalized investment when meeting with foreign leaders.
The Shanghai Free Trade Pilot zone has expanded to more than 120 square kilometers from the original 28 sq km three years ago. The past three years have seen other 10 pilot zones been established in regions such as Tianjin.
The Chinese government used to focus on favorable policies to foreign investors, and now simpler administration and better public services can also increase their enthusiasm, said Chen Fengying, a researcher at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations. “That’s the point for pilot zones, which serve as another way to attract foreign investments,” she added.