China to Simplify Business Registration for Foreign Investors

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China will simplify business registration procedures for foreign-invested enterprises in a bid to spur foreign investment, Premier Li Keqiang announced following a State Council meeting on May 16.

The measures, which will go into effect on June 30, 2018, include the “One Window, One Form” policy that is poised to streamline business filing and registration and cut bureaucratic red tape. Under the policy, filing with the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) and registration with the Administration for Industry and Commerce (AIC) will be unified into one step.

With the change, foreign investors will have a centralized point to liaise with the government for business registration instead of having to deal with multiple departments and offices.

Further, the government announced that it will set up an online platform that foreign businesses can use for business registration. Through the platform, foreign investors will be able to complete much of the registration process online and free of charge.

“Government services are to serve public good, and hence must be universally accessible,” Li said. “Current technologies have made it possible to have many things done online.”

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The online portal will give foreign investors access to interconnected government services at the national, provincial, and city levels. By the end of 2019, at least 90 percent of service items offered by provincial-level authorities and 70 percent by city- and county-level authorities will be made accessible online, per the announcement.

According to the State Council, foreign investors will only need to make a single in-person appearance for business registration steps that cannot be completed online. These steps will be clearly listed online.

In addition to streamlining the business registration process, the establishment of the online portal will make it easier for government departments to share and coordinate information in real-time.

The moves are part of a wider campaign by the Chinese government to improve ease of doing business at both the national and local level and streamline government administration. They are also part of the Internet Plus for government services campaign, which seeks to digitize various government functions.

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