China, for the first time, leapfrogged into the top 50 of 190 economies regarding the convenience and transparency of doing business, according to a World Bank report, Doing Business 2019: Training for Reform, released on Wednesday.
The change showcased the country’s substantial improvement in busting bureaucracy and providing efficient and transparent rules for investors, according to the World Bank and Chinese officials.
The report showed China climbed 32 spots from a year ago to 46th in the global ranking, as the country undertook the largest number of reforms in the East Asia and Pacific region to improve its business climate.
The report’s findings were fair and objective and reflected China’s firm commitment and effective measures to deepen reform and opening-up and to improve its business environment, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Thursday.
The spokesman said the country will continue to promote a new round of reform and opening-up measures to unleash the market’s vast potential and attract foreign investment.
“We welcome more foreign companies to develop in China, and share with them the country’s opportunities,” Lu said at a news conference.
China’s reforms led to improvements in areas such as trading across borders, electricity service and paying taxes, and earned the country a spot in this year’s top 10 global improvers, according to the report.
Bert Hofman, World Bank country director for China, said China’s progress in improving its business climate signaled “the value the government places on nurturing entrepreneurship and private enterprise”.
The report said that in Beijing and Shanghai, progress in starting a business and obtaining electrical service were particularly impressive.
It now takes nine days to start a business, after three related procedures were removed. That’s on par with most high-income countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the report showed.
Getting an electricity connection is also entirely free in China. Japan and the United Arab Emirates are the only two other countries to share this distinction.
As a result, China earned a global rank of 14 in this area, the report said.
Shanghai scored 8.11 points higher than the previous year, the report said.
Zhu Min, deputy director of the Shanghai Development and Reform Commission, said the municipality’s advancement in its business environment was due to its concerted efforts to delegate power, streamline administration and optimize government services, key reforms that China’s central authorities have been emphasizing for years.
Shanghai has set a target to help businesses reduce their cost burden by 50 billion yuan ($7.2 billion) this year, according to the commission.
Zhang Chunxiao, a research fellow at the China National School of Administration, said there have been significant and dynamic changes in China’s business environment, and more efforts are needed to further simplify procedures and optimize the evaluation mechanism.
The report said that despite the progress made since last year, China can do better in the area of dealing with construction permits, with a global rank of 121.
New Zealand topped the ranking this year. The United States slipped from sixth place last year to eighth place.
Cao Chen in Shanghai contributed to this story.