Go­ing strong

China re­mains at­trac­tive for for­eign in­vestors

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By HUY­ONGQI huy­ongqi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China is still one of the most at­trac­tive des­ti­na­tions for for­eign in­vest­ment be­cause of its stream­lined ad­min­is­tra­tion and trade fa­cil­i­ta­tion, Premier Li Ke­qiang said on a trip to the Shang­hai Free Trade Pi­lot Zone on Mon­day.

The premier was speak­ing at a Gen­eral Elec­tric tech­nol­ogy park, dur­ing his third visit to the pi­lot zone in three years since it was es­tab­lished to boost China’s re­form and open­ing-up.

GE has a re­search and de­vel­op­ment cen­ter as well as its Asia-Pa­cific man­age­ment cen­ter in Shang­hai. GE China has more than 30 man­u­fac­tur­ing bases that re­ceive orders worth $8.2 bil­lion and ex­port goods worth $5 bil­lion per year.

Li said GE’s choice has demon­strated that China is still one of the best des­ti­na­tions for for­eign in­vestors, and the coun­try has 170 mil­lion peo­ple who have re­ceived higher and se­condary ed­u­ca­tion, which is a pre­cious re­source.

Stream­lined ad­min­is­tra­tive pro­cesses and sim­pli­fied cus­toms clear­ance are two other fac­tors ex­pected to at­tract for­eign in­vest­ment. On Tues­day, Li vis­ited E&P In­ter­na­tional, an on­line port man­age­ment com­pany that runs the in­ter­na­tional trade sin­gle win­dow in the pi­lot zone.

The time re­quired to de­clare goods has been re­duced to half an hour from one day, and ship­ping to two hours from two days.

The premier said cus­toms clear­ance should boost the coun­try’s im­ports and ex­ports, as ex­ports have been de­clin­ing due to weak de­mand from the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket.

On Mon­day, Li also vis­ited the zone’s mar­ket su­per­vi­sion bu­reau, which has loos­ened re­quire­ments for cer­tifi­cates, but tight­ened mon­i­tor­ing to pre­vent il­le­gal prac­tices in the mar­ket­place.

For ex­am­ple, the bu­reau in­te­grated five hot­lines for con­sumer com­plaints and price mon­i­tor­ing into one plat­form to boost ef­fi­ciency.

Lu Jian­gli, an em­ployee of the bu­reau, said the num­ber of com­plaints re­ceived has al­most tripled since 2014, as con­sumers found it easy to get their prob­lems solved via the new plat­form.

The plat­form has not only fa­cil­i­tated con­sumers and en­ter­prises, but also strength­ened mar­ket vi­tal­ity, Li said. “By do­ing this, we can at­tract more en­ter­prises to en­ter the mar­ket un­der fair com­pe­ti­tion ,” he said.

Fa­cil­i­tat­ing in­vest­ment and lib­er­al­iz­ing trade have been con­cerns of the premier since tak­ing of­fice amid a slug­gish world econ­omy and as pro­tec­tion­ism is ris­ing due to a shrink­ing vol­ume of ex­ports. Li has re­peat­edly pledged his sup­port to free trade and lib­er­al­ized in­vest­ment when meet­ing with for­eign lead­ers.

The Shang­hai pi­lot zone has ex­panded to more than 120 square kilo­me­ters from its orig­i­nal 28 sq km three years ago. The past three years have seen 10 other pi­lot zones es­tab­lished.

The govern­ment used to fo­cus on grant­ing fa­vor­able poli­cies to for­eign in­vestors, and now, sim­pler ad­min­is­tra­tion and bet­ter public ser­vices will also in­crease their en­thu­si­asm, said Chen Fengy­ing, a re­searcher at the China In­sti­tutes of Con­tem­po­rary In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions.

“That’s the point of pi­lot zones, which serve as an­other way to at­tract for­eign in­vest­ment,” she added.

120 square km Area of the Shang­hai Free Trade Pi­lot Zone, com­pared with 28 sq km when it was founded three years ago

WU ZHIYI / CHINA DAILY

Premier Li Ke­qiang (sec­ond right) in­ter­acts with an em­ployee of Gen­eral Elec­tric’s Shang­hai head­quar­ters dur­ing a visit to the Shang­hai Free Trade Pi­lot Zone on Mon­day.

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