China drafts plan to make it easier to do business

FILE PHOTO: A man walks outside the construction sites in Beijing's central business area, China January 18, 2019. Picture taken January 18, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has come up with measures to make it easier to do business in the world’s second largest economy, from nurturing private enterprises to widening market access, as economic growth slows amid a protracted trade war with the United States.

The draft guidelines published by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) include better protection of intellectual property, equal market access and more support for private businesses and small companies as part of wider plans to stimulate the economy.

Domestic and foreign companies operating in China complain of unfair treatment when it comes to market access, burdensome red tape and weak law enforcement.

The measures come as a slew of data in recent weeks points to a slowdown in the economy. China is expected to report on Monday that growth in the second quarter was the weakest in at least 27 years.

The document underlined that it is necessary to treat all types of market entities equally and to establish a punitive damages system for intellectual property infringement.

Public bids and government procurement should be open to all and be transparent and fair, it said.

It also called on financial institutions to increase lending to private enterprises and small businesses, and provide targeted products and services.

China’s manufacturers are struggling with sluggish demand at home and abroad, and a sharp U.S. tariff hike announced in May threatens to crush already-thin profit margins.

The measures, outlined in a 30-page document, are open for comment.

Reporting by Dominique Patton, editing by Louise Heavens