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China to further improve business climate focusing on weak links

Zhang Yue
Updated: Mar 26,2019 10:19 PM

China will work harder this year for a more enabling business environment by tackling areas of weakness to better energize the market and stimulate social creativity, the State Council’s executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang decided on March 26.

The Chinese government puts great emphasis on improving the business climate. General Secretary Xi Jinping stressed the need to improve the investment and market environment by advancing opening-up and cutting costs for market operations in an effort to create a fair, transparent and predictable business environment. Premier Li Keqiang said in the Government Work Report this year that the government will work to energize market entities, and maintain and increase their level of activity by improving the business environment and cutting institutional transaction costs.

The meeting on March 26 called for redoubled efforts to tackle the pressing issues and measure up to advanced standards in fighting the tough battle of improving the business environment.

The government will further streamline administration by cutting procedural requirements, including shortening the negative list on market entry, separating business licenses and operating permits, simplifying the review process for construction projects, and reducing the types of industrial production permits. The goal is to cut the time required for starting a business to within five working days, and for companies to access electricity service to within 45 working days before the end of this year.

“Governments at all levels must take improving the business climate as a key measure for stimulating market dynamism. Just as the tax and fee cuts are designed to lessen corporate burdens, improving the business climate is meant to serve the same purpose. In face of fierce international competition, we must tackle all the areas of weakness in our business environment, such as access to credit service and bankruptcy filing,” Premier Li said.

It was also decided at the meeting to implement the principle of competitive neutrality, and overhaul the policies and measures that hamper the growth of private businesses or fail to treat domestic and foreign investors as equals. The fair competition review system will be implemented in all governments, including and above the county-level, before the end of this year. Under this system, all business-related policies will go through fair competition review, and mechanisms for filing complaints and third-party evaluation will be established to forestall or redress any action that precludes or constrains competition. In the meantime, it is imperative to enhance impartial regulation and tackle inadequacies in government oversight or corporate enforcement of their primary responsibilities. In areas concerning public safety and health, a system of hefty fines and compensations will be set up to hold companies accountable for the grave consequences arising from their breach of law.

The meeting also urged comprehensively enhancing the protection of intellectual property and promoting credit rating-based regulation to foster a dynamic, fair and orderly market.

“We must move quickly to sort through existing decrees to see that our policies are open, transparent and pro-free trade,” Premier Li said.