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China’s campaign to simplify administration encourages foreign investors

Updated: May 26,2015 2:21 PM     Xinhua

Japanese fashion manufacturer and retailer UNIQLO opened its first store in Ma’anshan City in east China’s Anhui Province earlier this year, thanks in part to China’s campaign to streamline administration.

With the help of a local subdistrict office, Fast Retailing (China) Trading Co., Ltd. managed to obtain a business license, despite lacking an important document.

“We needed the department store’s certificate of title for our business license before making orders and employing people. However, the construction work was not done yet and we didn’t have much time to wait,” said Qiang Lili, a manager with the company.

The company went to the city’s government affairs service center for help and learned that Ma’anshan had just launched a new regulation simplifying business location registration.

According to the new rule, which went into effect on December 31, 2014, those who temporarily lack the certificate of title for business license applications can submit proof of location from the local subdistrict office instead.

“We know the streamlining campaign is going on and we experienced the convenience this time. It’s encouraging,” said Qiang.

In addition to making business registration easier, Ma’anshan has also shortened the vetting period for investment projects. For example, the approval time for industrial projects was slashed from more than 30 to just 17 days.

“Foreign investors came for business opportunities, but the better government affairs services gave us more confidence,” Qiang said.

In the first quarter of this year, Ma’anshan City’s utilization of foreign direct investment reached 347 million U.S. dollars, up 12.8 percent year on year.

Similarly, foreign direct investment in other provinces also achieved steady growth in the first quarter of this year.

In Hubei, utilization of foreign investment hit 2.24 billion U.S.dollars, up 10.1 percent year on year. In Jiangxi, utilization of foreign investment reached 2.21 billion U.S. dollars, up 10.3 percent, and in Tianjin, it hit 6.37 billion U.S. dollars, up 10.5 percent.

Since 2013, State Council has been streamlining government administration to reduce government control and unleash market vitality.

In two years, more than 700 approval items controlled by central government departments have been canceled or delegated to lower agencies, more than a third of all approval items handled by the State Council prior to streamlining.

Following the steps of the central government, local administrations also explored ways to simplify the approval process and lower the threshold for investment.

On May 12, Premier Li Keqiang again called for more efforts to streamline administration procedures at a national teleconference attended by senior and mid-level officials.

Li said the government will cancel more approval items, make business registration easier and waive administrative charges it deems unreasonable this year.