Optimize the environment for foreign investment and increase efforts to attract investment

24 Pragmatic Measures to Boost Foreign Investment Confidence (Economic Focus)

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Since the beginning of this year, a package of policies has made efforts to demonstrate China's firm and open attitude and stabilize the confidence of foreign investment. A few days ago, the State Council issued opinions proposing 24 policies and measures to stabilize foreign investment, focusing on further optimizing the foreign investment environment and increasing the intensity of attracting foreign investment. A number of responsible persons of foreign-funded enterprises interviewed by the reporter recently said that they are full of confidence in China's market potential and development prospects.

A few days ago, the State Council issued the "Opinions on Further Optimizing the Environment for Foreign Investment and Increasing the Intensity of Attracting Foreign Investment" (hereinafter referred to as the "Opinions"), which put forward 6 policies and measures to stabilize foreign investment with strong pertinence and high gold content in six aspects, including improving the quality of foreign investment utilization and ensuring the national treatment of foreign-invested enterprises, focusing on further optimizing the foreign investment environment and increasing the intensity of attracting foreign investment. After the issuance of the Opinions, how do foreign-invested enterprises feel? The reporter conducted an interview.

The certainty of China's firm openness is precious

"The Opinions reflect China's positive stance of embracing foreign investment and encouraging openness, which has increased the confidence of enterprises to invest in China in the long run." An Gaobo, the relevant person in charge of Merck KGa, said that China's insistence on opening the door wider and wider, and this precious certainty has been further strengthened in the Opinions.

Over the past 10 years, Merck has invested nearly 60 billion yuan in China. "The Opinions provide detailed guidance and planning in terms of national treatment, intellectual property protection, enterprise operation facilitation, fiscal and tax support, etc., which are all strong guarantees for the efficient output of enterprises' investment in China, the landing of high-tech products and services in China, integration into China's local innovation system, and attracting and retaining high-tech talents." An Gaobo believes that China has huge market potential, stable development environment, and favorable development policies, which strengthen the determination of enterprises to continue to invest in China.

Attracting and utilizing foreign capital is China's long-term policy for opening up to the outside world. From actively exploring the reform of the foreign investment management system in the pilot free trade zone, continuously reducing the negative list for foreign investment access, to promulgating and implementing the Foreign Investment Law, China has always insisted on creating a more attractive business environment for foreign investment and protecting the legitimate rights and interests of foreign-invested enterprises. This year, the State Council issued the "Several Measures on Piloting International High-standard Institutional Opening in Conditional Pilot Free Trade Zones and Free Trade Ports", and the General Office of the State Council forwarded the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Science and Technology "Several Measures to Further Encourage Foreign Investment to Set Up R&D Centers", plus the latest "Opinions", a package of policies to stabilize foreign investment confidence.

"The issuance of the Opinions is timely. In the current complex and severe international environment and uncertain prospects for trade and investment, the 24 measures demonstrate China's firm determination to deepen the opening up of rules, regulations, management, standards and other institutions, reflect China's continuous improvement of the level and quality of investment with a better business environment, and play a positive role in stabilizing the expectation and confidence of foreign investment. Professor Wang Xiaohong, deputy director of the Scientific Research and Information Department of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said.

Recently, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade conducted a survey of nearly 26 foreign-funded enterprises from 800 provinces. According to the resulting "Survey Report on China's Foreign Business Environment in the Second Quarter of 2023", nearly ninety percent of the surveyed foreign-funded enterprises are "satisfied" with the indicators of obtaining business premises, paying taxes, market access, cross-border trade, and promoting market competition in China, and more than ninety percent of the foreign-funded enterprises surveyed are "satisfied" with the foreign investment policies issued by the central government since the fourth quarter of 2022.

It responds to concerns and focuses on improving the quality of investment

Tetsuro Honma, Global Vice President of Panasonic Holdings, said: In the past three years, Panasonic has carried out the construction and expansion of new business bases in 3 regions in China, and has decided to build two this year. In areas such as new energy vehicles, Panasonic will continue to provide new value and contribute to China's high-quality development.

"The Opinions concisely, accurately and clearly respond to some of the hottest issues most vocally sought by foreign-funded enterprises in their investment and operation in China. Especially in terms of safeguarding the national treatment of foreign-invested enterprises, the 'ensuring that foreign-invested enterprises participate in government procurement activities in accordance with the law' and 'supporting foreign-invested enterprises to participate equally in the standard-setting work in accordance with the law' are very important to us. We fully feel China's concern about the demands of foreign-funded enterprises and its firm determination to stabilize foreign investment, and we welcome and will actively cooperate to help these policies and measures to stabilize foreign investment be truly implemented. Hideki Ozawa, Chairman and CEO of Canon (China) Co., Ltd., said that after 40 years of stable development in China, Canon continues to be optimistic about the resilient Chinese economy.

Deloitte China Council Chair Vivian Jiang believes that the Opinions pay more attention to improving the quality of foreign capital utilization, and increase support and encouragement in promoting investment in advanced manufacturing and modern service industries. The Opinions place special emphasis on supporting foreign investment in setting up R&D centers in China and encouraging foreign investment to undertake major scientific research projects. Foreign-funded R&D centers have strong innovation capabilities in basic frontier fields, which can not only effectively promote foreign enterprises to produce high-quality innovation results, but also play an important role in promoting China's scientific and technological innovation and high-quality development. "In 2022, the proportion of foreign capital actually used in China's high-tech industries will increase to 36.1% of the country. It is necessary to grasp this trend and attract foreign capital to deploy more high-end links of the industrial chain to China. Jiang Ying said.

On August 8, the Ministry of Commerce held a roundtable meeting for foreign-funded enterprises on the interpretation and communication of the Opinions to answer questions for foreign-funded enterprises. Chen Chunjiang, assistant minister of the Ministry of Commerce, said at the meeting that the Ministry of Commerce will work with relevant departments and localities to refine the division of tasks in the Opinions to ensure that all measures are implemented as soon as possible. Strengthen follow-up and efficiency, further give play to the role of mechanisms such as the roundtable for foreign-funded enterprises, and coordinate and solve the difficulties encountered by foreign-funded enterprises in the process of policy implementation; Do a good job of summary and evaluation, and create a predictable and better investment environment for the development of foreign-funded enterprises in China.

The overall trend of foreign-funded enterprises expanding their investment in China has not changed

On August 8, Starbucks announced the establishment of an innovation and technology center in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, with an initial investment of about 18.15 billion yuan, to enhance its technical capabilities and data infrastructure to further drive the digitalization of stores and other channels. "Starbucks has been confident in the Chinese market for 24 years and has been increasing its investment and accelerating its development in China in the past few years. This year, the Starbucks China Coffee Innovation Industrial Park in Kunshan, Jiangsu Province is about to open. Liu Wenjuan, chief operating officer of Starbucks Enterprise Management (China) Co., Ltd., said that the company now has more than 2000 million active members, and whether it is product innovation or digital experience innovation, it is looking forward to co-creation and sharing with users on a larger scale.

In the first seven months of this year, the total import and export volume of AstraZeneca's production and supply base in Jiangsu exceeded 7.26 billion US dollars, an increase of more than 5% year-on-year. "With its ultra-large market and resilient supply chain, China has become AstraZeneca's second largest market in the world and an important engine for future development." Wang Lei, global executive vice president of AstraZeneca, said that the "Opinions" proposed to "accelerate the landing and production of foreign-invested projects in the field of biomedicine", which undoubtedly brought more positive signals to enterprises. AstraZeneca has seized policy opportunities and successively reached a number of cooperation agreements in Wuxi, Taizhou and Qingdao, Shandong, to increase investment and layout of production and supply in China.

Since the beginning of this year, the world economic growth has been weak, China's use of foreign capital is under pressure, coupled with the high base effect of last year's actual use of foreign funds increased by 6.3% over the same period of the previous year, in the first half of this year, China's actual use of foreign funds has decreased slightly year-on-year. However, the fluctuation of short-term data does not affect the continued optimism of foreign investment in China's development prospects, and the overall trend of foreign enterprises expanding investment in China has not changed. Whether it is the emerging "wave of visits to China" or the number of newly established foreign-invested enterprises in the country in the first half of the year, which increased by 35.7% year-on-year, it shows the strong attraction of the Chinese market to foreign investment.

Jiang Ying believes that with the continuous implementation of measures to further deepen reform and opening up, more high-quality foreign-funded enterprises will be attracted to develop and deepen their cultivation in China. In the long run, China's economic super-large-scale market advantages are very prominent, with a large number of innovative application scenarios, and rich high-quality talent resources, and its competitive advantage in the world is still obvious. By strengthening openness and cooperation and strengthening its ties and interactions with the world economy, China will help improve the efficiency and level of domestic economic operation and form a closer and more stable global economic circulation system. (People's Daily reporter Luo Shanshan)