The Chinese government will roll out more measures to facilitate the delivery of major foreign-invested projects, lower tariffs on some imported goods and streamline customs clearance procedures at a faster pace, as was decided at the State Council executive meeting presided over by Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday.
The measures aim to expand opening-up and foster a fairer, more convenient and more enabling environment for foreign investment.
The Chinese government places high importance on foreign investment facilitation. Premier Li has emphasized on many occasions the pledge to widen market access, accord equal treatment to Chinese and foreign companies, more effectively protect intellectual property rights, and better facilitate foreign investments in China.
It was decided at the Wednesday meeting that an online filing process will be introduced in regulating foreign investment in China. Unified market access criteria will be applied to both Chinese and foreign investment in areas outside of the negative list.
Large-scale foreign investments eligible for major project development schemes will receive support on land and sea-use approval procedures and accelerated environmental impact assessment and their logistics costs will be reduced.
More areas will be open to foreign investment. The withholding tax deferral policy for reinvestment by foreign investors in China will be expanded from the designated encouraged projects to any areas and projects that are not prohibited.
The meeting also called for intensified protection of intellectual property rights.
"This year marks the 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up in China. Given the evolving situation at home and abroad, it is important to firmly commit to fostering greater opening-up and attracting foreign investment to help anchor market expectations," Li pointed out.
Statistics from the Ministry of Commerce show that paid-in foreign investment reached 86.5 billion U.S. dollars between January and August 2018, a 6.1-percent increase year-on-year.
More steps were approved at the meeting to cater for diverse consumer needs and facilitate industrial upgrading. Starting from Nov. 1 this year, import tariffs for a total of 1,585 tax items will be slashed.
The average tariff rate for highly demanded products in domestic markets such as machinery and industrial instruments will be cut from 12.2 percent to 8.8 percent, textile and construction materials from 11.5 percent to 8.4 percent, paper and some other resource-based products and primarily processed goods from 6.6 percent to 5.4 percent.
Tax brackets will be consolidated for goods in the same or similar categories.
Tariff cuts introduced to date will help reduce corporate and consumer tax burdens by nearly 60 billion yuan (about 8.7 billion U.S. dollars) and lower China's overall tariff rate from 9.8 percent last year to 7.5 percent.
More efforts will be made to expedite customs clearance. The meeting decided that by November 1 this year, the number of customs clearance documents subject to verification at ports will be reduced from 86 to 48.
The list of administrative charges at ports will be released before the end of October this year. Compliance costs of containers clearing will be will be reduced by at least 100 U.S. dollars by the end of this year.
Overhaul of fees must be completed without delay in order to abolish unreasonable charges and cut compliance costs, Li urged at the meeting.
"Competent departments must make concerted efforts to enhance oversight and treat foreign and domestic businesses as equals," Li said.