Foreign projects to enjoy faster customs clearance, lower taxes
China will encourage major foreign-invested projects, lower import tariffs and ease customs procedures to expand opening-up and enable a better environment for foreign investment, it was decided at a State Council executive meeting presided over by Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday.
An online filing process will be introduced to regulate foreign investment in China. Unified market access criteria will be applied to both Chinese and foreign investment in areas outside the negative list.
Large-scale foreign investments eligible for major project development plans will receive support on land and sea-use approval procedures, and an accelerated review process of environmental impact and logistical costs will be implemented.
The country will open more areas to foreign investment, and tax benefits will be extended to a larger variety of investments. The meeting also urged enhanced 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 attract foreign investment to help anchor market expectations," Li said.
Foreign investment reached $86.5 billion between January and August 2018, a 6.1 percent increase year-on-year, the Ministry of Commerce said.
Starting on Nov. 1, import tariffs on a total of 1,585 items will be slashed. The average tariff rate for 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, and 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 and lower China's overall import tariff rate from 9.8 percent last year to 7.5 percent.
More effort will be made to expedite customs clearance. It was decided at the meeting that by Nov 1, 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. Compliance costs for the import and export of containers will be reduced by 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 work jointly to enhance oversight and treat foreign and domestic businesses as equals," Li said.