China to further improve business environment to energize the market
Updated: July 9, 2020 23:10

China will introduce policies to provide better services to market entities and further facilitate employment and business start-ups, in an effort to improve the business environment and energize market players. The decisions were made at the State Council's executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on July 8.

The Chinese government puts great emphasis on deepening the reform of government functions and improving the business environment. General Secretary Xi Jinping stressed the importance of making parallel progress in COVID-19 containment and economic and social development. He urged greater efforts in refining the business environment to attract more investment, keep the level of investment stable, and help investors feel reassured. This will help fully unlock China's enormous potential and dynamism. Premier Li Keqiang underlined the need to advance the reform of government functions and develop a more enabling business climate in light of the current circumstances, alongside necessary containment measures, in a bid to stimulate market vitality.

To maintain stability in the six key areas and enhance protections in another six priority areas, the meeting urged effective delivery of all the relief policies on the fiscal, social security and financial fronts for supporting the more than 100 million market entities, and instituting reforms in building a world-class and market-oriented business environment governed by a sound legal framework, to further stimulate market vitality.

The meeting adopted a guideline on further improving the business environment and providing better services to market players.

"The guideline is both reality-based and long-term-oriented. Its focus is providing better services for market players. Although no specific GDP growth target was set this year, related targets in other respects are specified, including adding 9 million urban jobs and sustaining the more than 100 million market entities, among others. If we can meet these targets, we may be confident that the major goals of economic and social development this year will be attained," Premier Li said.

Reform measures were taken by sub-national governments and related departments in support of business reopening in the past weeks and months, including streamlining approval procedures, pursuing regulatory innovation and providing better services. The newly approved guideline highlighted that practices proven effective in meeting market needs during COVID-19 containment should be institutionalized as needed in a timely way.

"If we can fully deliver the tax and fee cuts and fiscal funding support for this year, together with the interest concessions by financial institutions as appropriate by market principles, businesses can get through this trying time. These are also efforts for a sound business environment," Premier Li said.

The meeting urged improving services for market entities. Full review of construction projects online will be expedited. In sectors with licensing requirements, a single operating permit will be explored that would be valid across regions and sufficient for getting businesses up and running in each sector. The industrial licensing authority will be delegated to the provincial level within this year, and the average review period for trademark registration will be shortened to no more than four months.

"The costs for getting things done must be significantly reduced. Complex and lengthy approval process is too much a cost for companies to bear. The procedures must be further improved. The reviewing requirements should be streamlined or removed wherever possible," Premier Li said.

Employment and business start-ups will be further facilitated. Accommodating yet prudent regulation over new forms of business will be improved.

Platform companies will be guided toward lowering commissions, charges for barcode-scanning payments and other fees. Flexible employment will be promoted.

Unwarranted restrictions on market access in education, healthcare and sports will be removed.

Online verification of professional qualifications will be done by the end of June next year.

"The employment-first policy must be fully implemented. The most pressing task now is to promote the employment of college graduates," the Premier said.

More enabling conditions will be created for foreign investment and trade. Cities at prefectural level and above will be given the mandate for foreign-invested business registration. Regulatory certificates for import and export will be processed, in principle, via a single stop.

"We must foster a world-class business environment to attract and harness foreign investment. This is of particular importance under the current complex international environment. Work must be expedited wherever necessary. This is essential for a larger purpose," Premier Li said.

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