China to further improve business environment by focusing on addressing market concerns
With the introduction of the regulation on bettering the business environment, China will take further steps to foster a world-class, market-oriented business environment governed by a sound legal framework.
Greater efforts will be made to tackle the difficulties that market players of all types face in their business operations, the State Council decided on the executive meeting on Wednesday chaired by Premier Li Keqiang.
The regulation on bettering the business environment, which is scheduled to be implemented on January 1 next year, draws upon China's successful practices and experience in recent years in transforming government functions and improving the business environment.
The regulation has also set in a legal framework the requirement for building a world-class, market-oriented business environment governed by a sound legal framework. The Wednesday meeting required local governments and departments to swiftly issue supporting measures and bring all existing ordinances and normative documents in line with the regulation by revising or repealing any inconsistencies.
"Energizing the market is a key step in countering the downward economic pressure. We will continue with the tax cuts and reform of government functions for a better business environment in China," Li said.
In the World Bank's October report of Doing Business, China ranked 31st among 190 economies, up by 15 spots from the previous year.
"With hard work in recent years, we have made notable progress in improving the business climate, which has been recognized by the international community," Li said. "Yet we must also recognize the underperforming aspects, and the big potential for improvement, like the big gap among eastern, central and western regions, and between urban and rural areas."
It was stressed at the meeting that concerns of market players will be taken as a priority as required by the regulation. Administrative approval requirements will be further streamlined. A list of national-level review items will be formulated next year, and no government approval requirement beyond the list will be allowed. The time required for starting a business will be further shortened. The number of national vocational qualifications will be more than halved by the end of 2020.
Market access will be further eased. Requirements regarding the qualification, registered capital and business venue of market players in the service sector will be significantly relaxed. Unwarranted licensing requirements on for-profit medical and education institutions will be removed.
The meeting urged further overhauling of business-related charges by government-affiliated institutions, commercial banks, industrial associations and intermediary agencies. Unjustifiable charges in logistics will be overhauled, and charges on a regular container in import and export will be brought down to under US$400 before the end of next year.
Discriminative practices concerning market access, qualification criteria and industrial subsidies against businesses on grounds of ownership structure will be removed to promote impartial oversight where all companies are treated as equals.
Government services will be upgraded. The time required for real estate general registration and mortgage registration at city and county levels will all be cut to under five working days next year. The practice of pre-commitment compliance will be fully rolled out.
"We must get our priorities right in improving the business environment. We should build on the good work in recent years regarding cutting the time required for starting a business, and decoupling business licenses from operation permits, and scale up our efforts in these two aspects," Li urged. "Government departments should resolutely deregulate, including cutting permit requirements and enhancing compliance oversight."
To better harness the guiding and catalyzing role of business environment rating, the meeting urged efforts to improve the system of indicators and evaluation methods in light of responses from market players on the basis of the trial rating in a select number of cities since 2018.
Targeted reform measures will be introduced in weak areas such as paying taxes, getting credit, and trading across borders in line with advanced international standards, and practices that have proven effective and well-received by market players will be promoted at a faster pace, so as to continuously improve China's market environment.
"Before introducing any policy that involves public interests and market players, the government must be thorough in its research and follow due procedures. The viewpoints of all stakeholders should be heeded to shape good expectations," Li said.