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Making uncertainties certain, China shores up market confidence with new moves

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-01-06 17:33
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A bird's-eye view of Beijing's central business district, which is home to the headquarters of a great number of companies on the Fortune Global 500. [Photo/VCG]

SHANGHAI - On the first day of 2020, Xu Jin, from Shanghai, received a business license for the company "Shanghai Zunyun Consultancy and Management Co Ltd" he co-founded with his American partner.

Xu is among the first Chinese nationals to receive the business license for a foreign-funded company, after the foreign investment law, passed by the country's top legislature in early 2019, took effect on the same day.

The new law, granting more flexible market access to foreign firms in China, is hailed as a boost to their confidence in expanding investment in the world's largest developing economy.

In addition to the new law, cities like Shanghai and Guangzhou also rolled out supportive laws and regulations.

In the 3.0 version of its business environment reform plan, Shanghai vows to take Hong Kong SAR and Singapore as benchmarks to optimize the business environment and simplify government service procedures.

"Compared with the two previous versions, the new plan focuses on drawing advanced experience to foster a favorable business environment aligned with the highest international standards and best practices," said Eddie Yan, Deloitte China Government & Public Services partner.

Kelly Fan, the corporate communication manager of Asia with General Mills, a leading global food company that set its Chinese headquarters in Shanghai, is also impressed by the newly released Shanghai plan.

"We've operated business in China for more than 13 years, and we've received strong support from local governments such as the 'door-to-door service,' which enabled us to actively address market challenges and increase market share and sales," said Fan. She believes that the new version will help Shanghai attract more investment from home and abroad.

Guangzhou, capital of southern China's Guangdong province, also published a 3.0 version plan to improve the business environment. The plan incorporates 82 specific reform measures aiming to simplify formalities and improve efficiency.

Headquartered in Guangdong's city of Dongguan, Hsu Fu Chi International Ltd, a leading snack and confectionery producer, is confident in its market outlook.

"Encouraged by the tangible progress the local government has made to improve the business environment, such as lower tax rate and electricity price, fewer restrictions on business registration, we are confident of our market performance this year," said Su Qiang, Hsu Fu Chi's CEO in an interview with Xinhua.

A newly released report from The International Monetary Fund warned that global economic growth is expected to slow down in the next two years amid rising uncertainties.

But to Yan and his peers, the series of new moves China has taken underpin the nation's resolution to further nurture an attractive and open business environment, to help China cope with the uncertainties of the international environment.

China jumped 15 places to 31 out of 190 countries and regions for ease of doing business in the World Bank Group's Doing Business 2020 study, making it one of the most improved economies in terms of doing business.

In the first 11 months of 2019, the number of foreign-funded projects with an investment of over $100 million in China reached 722, up 15.5 percent year-on-year.

Wei Jianguo, vice-chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, expected that through the implementation of the new foreign investment law, China would remain an investment hotspot and attract an estimated foreign investment amounting to $140 to $150 billion in 2020.

"Given the fact that 2019 was a year full of uncertainties, China's biggest achievement is its resilience and stability proven in its economy," said Zhu Ning, a professor with the Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance of Shanghai Jiao Tong University. "It's crucial for China to face uncertainties and stick to its path to further promote reform and opening up."

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