China implementing new rules to make business easier: state planner

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will implement new regulations that aim to make it easier to do business from Jan. 1, 2020, China’s state planner said on Wednesday, amid increasing pressure on the world’s second largest economy.

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The new policies will guarantee equal market access and protect fair competition in the market. They also promise to strengthen existing protections under the law.

Foreign companies operating in China have long complained of unfair treatment when it comes to market access, burdensome red tape and weak law enforcement. China’s private firms, which have a harder time accessing financing than state-owned enterprises, have also been harder hit by the economic slowdown.

The measures said that foreign and domestic companies should be treated equally, as should all types of market entities regardless of ownership.

China will set up a punitive damage system for infringements on intellectual property, according to the measures. Intellectual property protection is a key issue in negotiations between China and the United States that seek to end a bruising trade war.

The U.S. should also improve its business environment to make it more convenient for Chinese firms, Ning Jizhe, Vice Chair of the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s state planner, told a news conference.

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

The European Chamber of Commerce in China complained of “blatant discrimination” against foreign companies in public procurement, in a paper released in September.

“China has a vast market. We welcome companies from every country to increase their economic, trade and investment cooperation with China,” said Ning.

The measures come as recent data points to increasing pressure on China’s economy, which grew at a near-30-year low in the third quarter this year.

Improving the business environment is important for stable economic growth and employment as it can help stimulate entrepreneurship and innovation, said Ning.

Reporting by Gabriel Crossley and Beijing Monitoring Desk; Writing by Huizhong Wu and Gabriel Crossley; Editing by Alison Williams and Deepa Babington