China will work to tackle the weak areas in its business environment to further improve overall competitiveness and sustain the sound momentum of steady economic performance. This was decided at the State Council’s executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on July 18.
The Chinese government places high importance on improving the country’s business environment. President Xi Jinping likened the investment environment to the air people breathe. Only with fresh air can a country attract more investment. Premier Li urged government authorities to address the top concerns of businesses and tackle institutional deficiencies to cultivate a world-class business environment in China.
“In the face of growing international competition, we must fully appreciate the pressing need for stepping up the reforms of our government’s functions, which are crucial for energizing market entities and grassroots initiative and for improving China’s overall business environment,” Premier Li said at the meeting.
Recent years have seen the government’s relentless efforts in cutting red tape in light of market bottlenecks and bringing the country up to advanced global standards in terms of business-friendliness. These reform endeavors have achieved notable results.
The latest figures from the Commerce Ministry show that in the first half of this year, 29,591 foreign-invested enterprises were established, up by 96.6 percent year-on-year. According to the 2017 report of the World Bank, China ranked 78th in ease of doing business, up by 18 spots over 2013. In the revised negative list for foreign investment jointly issued by the Commerce Ministry and the National Development and Reform Commission in June, the number of restrictive items was cut from 63 in 2017 to 48.
It was decided that another 17 administrative permits will no longer be required, including in establishing a nursing home for the elderly, declaring the invalidity of business licenses, project approval for foreign businesses to invest in road transport, and work permits for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao residents to work on the mainland. Six of the above 17 items will be revoked through applying for legal revisions.
Customs clearance and quarantine will be further integrated by the end of 2018, and procedures for import and export registration will be streamlined. Statistics from the departments of market oversight and commerce will be used directly for customs registration.
The taxation procedure will be further streamlined, and time required for enterprise tax payments will be reduced. The procedure required for immovable property registration will be completed within 15 working days, and time required for a mortgage registration will be shortened to within seven working days by the end of this year.
At the same time, reforms on the enterprise investment project commitment system will be accelerated, with government authorities setting criteria and businesses keeping good credit records.
A new negative list for businesses will be issued, and any restrictions hampering a level playing field for businesses will be abandoned. Behaviors such as counterfeiting and infringements and illegal charges will be cracked down on.
Meanwhile, efforts will continue to be made in facilitating public services and reforming the administrative examination and approval system by reducing the time, documentation and cost required and enhancing transparency.
“Our efforts in streamlining administration, delegating powers and improving government services boil down to striking a proper balance between the government and the market and truly allowing the market to play a decisive role in allocating resources,” Premier Li pointed out, “Instead of redistributing powers among government departments, we should give full respect and delegate due powers to market entities.”
It was also decided at the meeting that China will carry out phased evaluations of the businesses environment across the country and offer further incentives for better performers. Some 28 steps for improving the business environment that have worked well in some regions, including the one-stop service model, and Internet Plus medical insurance, will be disseminated to encourage competition in the quality of business environment across the country.
“The market and our people will have final judgment on the success of our efforts to streamline administration,” the Premier said. “A key responsibility of the government is to give timely response to public concerns and faithfully live out our commitment to people-centered development.”