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Wednesday, October 12, 2016, 11:14

Simplified measures for investment

By Zhang Yue

Simplified measures for investment
Premier Li Keqiang delivers a speech at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Sep 30, 2016. (Photo / Xinhua)
The Chinese government will further streamline approval procedures for foreign investment across the country to attract more overseas investment and improve China's business environment.

A new legislative guideline was approved during the State Council's executive meeting on Oct 8, chaired by Premier Li Keqiang. "Our country also needs advanced technology and new ideas to press ahead with development," Li said. "This is part of the government's crucial efforts to streamline administration and delegate power, as well as improve our business environment."

The new guideline is a revision of the existing administrative measures for foreign investment in China's four free trade zones in Shanghai, Guangdong, Tianjin and Fujian, turning the three-year pilot measures into a legislative guideline.

According to the new guideline, those interested in investing in China no longer have to go through approval procedures if they invest in non-restricted sectors, in accordance with the Catalogue of Industries for Foreign Investment, and do not contradict the special requirements regarding equity rights and level of management in the catalog, which was issued last year.

The new guideline is aimed at helping foreign investors reduce concerns about discriminatory industrial policies in China, and calls for more effective government services for foreign investment.

The importance of encouraging foreign investment has been frequently stressed by Li, and was most recently brought up when he addressed an audience in New York last month.

"We are paying equal attention to 'bringing in' and 'going global', and for a developing country like China, it is still important to attract massive foreign investment, which can help boost the Chinese economy," Li said.

"We hope that China will remain an attractive destination for foreign investment. We need foreign investment for economic growth, and more importantly, we need new managerial expertise and advanced technologies that foreign investment brings," he said.

The "foreign investment negative list" was first applied in the Shanghai FTZ in 2013, the country's first FTZ. It explored paths to better attract overseas investors by acting as a guideline for temporary administrative measures for FTZ foreign investment regulations. Foreign investors whose projects are not on the negative list only need to register their investment with the government system via the internet.

This was later applied to the other three FTZs, and was expected to be revised and applied across the country after a three-year trial.

Official data show that such measures greatly boosted foreign investment in these areas. From January to August, actual use of foreign capital in the four FTZs totaled US$8.59 billion, accounting for almost 10 percent of the national total. A third-party evaluation also shows the simplified measures have brought vigor to foreign investment. Online registration takes just three working days, while the previous approval procedure usually took no less than 20 working days.

Once the new guideline is put in place, administrative procedures required for registration will be reduced by 95 percent. The decision to revise the regulations was approved by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress in early September.

According to Wu Qing, a finance researcher with the Development Research Center of the State Council, the change in investment procedure management should send a positive signal to foreign investors about China's improving investment environment.

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