China remains attractive for foreign investors
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
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.