Starting business is easier as rules eased

Shanghai is on a campaign to enhance its profile globally. This ongoing series focuses on industry and economic news in four target areas – services, manufacturing and culture.

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STARTING up a new business in Shanghai is getting easier and more time efficient.

A total of 555 businesses have received licenses since the city launched a one-stop service platform on March 31 to cut red tape and improve the business environment, according to the Shanghai Industry and Commerce Administration.

The new reform cuts the time of starting a new business in the city to five days from 22.

The one-stop platform merges the systems of different government authorities and allows online application and approval of licenses, company seal making and tax affairs.

It means businesses no longer have to submit several reports to a range of government agencies, including industry and commerce, tax and police, as well as banks. The number of procedures has also been cut.

The platform includes sections allowing new businesses to set up bank accounts to deal with social security procedures.

Under the new system, government departments can share information and receive information from businesses at the same time, significantly boosting efficiency.

“The practice aims to make it easy, quick and convenient to open a new business in the city,” said Chen Xuejun, director of the administration.

Wu Linxi, legal representative of Shanghai Shengmo Information and Technology Co Ltd, was the first person to receive a business license, in Fengxian District, after the new system was introduced.

He submitted registration information regarding industry and commerce, police, tax and banking through the platform early on April 4, and the information was reviewed and approved quickly — he got his license by noon.

“The efficiency amazes me — it saves precious time for businesses,” said Wu.

Wang Jing, who helps companies in the Linhai Industrial Zone in Fengxian lodge their applications, also gave a thumbs-up for the platform.

“Although it took time to adjust to the new platform, approval speed is surprisingly improved, which is unbelievable,” she said.

“The reforms have brought great convenience for doing business in Shanghai,” said Xue Yincong, leasing manager of Longwin Trade (Shanghai) Ltd.

“For instance, the name check for registering a new business can be done within a much shorter time, and processes have been simplified to a great extent,” Xue said.

Shanghai had 1.91 million registered businesses at the end of February, or equal to 77 businesses per 1,000 people in the city — surpassing the figure in cities such as London and Tokyo, according to the administration.

The number of new businesses registered daily in the city rose to 1,174 last year from 431 in 2013.

The administration plans to trial whole-process electronic registration — with all steps online and paperless — within the year, which will further boost the ease of opening businesses, officials said.

The willingness of Shanghai authorities to encourage business innovation and operation in the city goes beyond streamlined procedures and improved efficiency.

The city’s food authorities have also broadened their services to include several new styles of catering operations.

Fifteen such companies have applied for licenses, and 13 have either passed reviews or been approved so far, the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration said yesterday.

On the list are automatic vending machines selling freshly squeezed orange juice, freshly brewed coffee, pizza, and noodles.

“We want companies to be innovative and are willing to help them if their business operations benefit the public,” said Zhang Zhunmin, deputy director of the administration.

“Automatic vending machines are new business models, and the fact they have been allowed to take root in Shanghai shows flexibility on the part of authorities in charge of supervision and management,” said Zhang.

These business models are not covered in existing food regulations, making it hard to obtain a license.

“We are changing our supervision and management mindset,” Zhang said.



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