Ease of Doing Business


Perhaps you’ve already noticed, and if not I’d like to bring this to your attention, that China is making various announcements to introduce new laws and regulations designed to make it easier for foreigners to visit, invest and do business in China. Of course there are reasons for the timing of this (eg the US China Trade Negotiations) but, as I’ve said in the past, China is disappointed with the relatively small number of foreign firms who set up in China and are determined to do something about it. Here are three unrelated and recent China News stories which prove the point:

China passes new law to help foreign firms – according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP) “the new law, which will come into effect on January 1 next year, aims to create a ‘stable, fair, transparent and predictable’ business environment by cutting red tape and levelling the playing field”.

China Opens Up Financial Sector to More Foreign Investment – according to Bloomberg, “China opened up its financial sector to more foreign investment as the government said it will take targeted measures to cope with rising risks and challenges facing the industry. Foreign investors can take a stake or control entities including wealth management units of commercial lenders, pension fund managers and currency brokers.”

China extends six-day visa-free tourist stopover scheme to 27 ports and cities – the SCMP reports that, in order to boost local tourism, “China will increase the number of ports of entry offering tourists a six-day visa-free stopover to 27” and “tourists from 53 countries can gain entry without a visa to 20 cities through the ports for up to 144 hours”.

Recently, I was drawn to this headline in the SCMP “China advances in World Bank’s ease of business rankings after sharp increase in reforms”.

According to the World Bank’s 2020 “Doing Business” Report, Beijing has shown an ‘eagerness to reform’ which has ‘seen China jump from 45th to 31st place in the ease of doing business index. Between 2016 and 2018, Beijing enacted just 6 reforms, including 2 last year. But in this year alone, the government has implemented 7, including streamlining procedures for starting a business and registering property. 8 reforms will be enacted in 2020, two of which include making it easier to access electricity and enforce contracts”.

New Zealand came top of the “Doing Business” list, with Singapore in 2nd place and Hong Kong 3rd. The US rose two places to 6th, UK was 8th and Australia came 14th.

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