China creates better business environment with streamlined service

In a pilot free trade zone in the city of Yingkou, business owners no longer need to run back and forth to different government agencies just to get their companies registered.
China creates better business environment with streamlined service

In a pilot free trade zone in the city of Yingkou in northeast China's Liaoning Province, business owners no longer need to run back and forth to different government agencies just to get their companies registered.

Under a reform program named "combining 39 certificates into one," more than 230 companies have saved about 43 days on average by not being required to get unnecessary paperwork.

Administrative procedures may further be reduced for these companies, as the local government has decided to expand a pilot reform to further cut red tape.

The reform, already in trial in Shanghai Pudong New Area, separates operation permits from business licenses and eliminates 116 approval items. A total of 10 free trade zones across the country, including those in Tianjin, Chongqing, Liaoning and Zhejiang, will also test the reform following the Shanghai trial, according to a decision made at the State Council executive meeting Wednesday.

Over the past five years, China has made big strides in creating a better business environment for both domestic and overseas companies. Through simpler approval process, lower corporate fees and technology-based services, the government is transforming its functions to let the market play a larger role in the economy.

Latest data showed that in the first eight months of this year, 16,000 new companies were registered every day on average, compared with only 6,900 more than three years ago, when business registration reforms were initiated.

"The reforms have fostered entrepreneurship and innovation and laid a solid foundation for economic growth," said Zhang Mao, head of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce.

According to Zhang, new market entities have contributed to more than 40 percent of new urban employment in 2016, injecting vitality into the economy.

In terms of lowering the corporate burden, the government has made a promise to slash corporate costs by 1 trillion yuan (about 154 billion U.S. dollars) this year, which Premier Li Keqiang said the country will deliver in full.

Thanks to measures such as the removal of some road tolls in provincial-level regions, national logistics costs fell by 35.6 billion yuan in the first half of this year, according to the Ministry of Transport.

Technology has also played a bigger role in improving government services. In a pilot free trade zone in Xiamen, southeast China's Fujian Province, customs brokers can make appointments with authorities using mobile apps, effectively shortening the time needed for the inspection of goods.

Favorable policies have been helping domestic and foreign companies alike. China has significantly trimmed its "negative list" on foreign investment, which identifies sectors and businesses that are off-limits, in its pilot free trade zones. The negative list approach will be expanded to the whole nation to attract more foreign investment.

In the first seven months of this year, newly registered foreign-funded companies rose 12 percent year on year to 17,703, as simpler administrative procedures and lower entry barriers attracted businesses, analysts said.

According to a report released by the World Bank, China's ranking in terms of the ease of doing business moved up eight spots every year from 2013 to 2016, while the country's ranking for the ease of starting businesses climbed 31 places during the period.

"Against a backdrop of global competition, we should aim higher and continue to push reforms that will improve the business environment and speed up economic upgrades," said Zhang Jianping, an official from a research center under the Ministry of Commerce.

Special Reports