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2019-03-05 | All chapters

European Chamber Stance on the Annual Government Work Report Delivered at Two Sessions

Background

On 5th March 2019, the annual work report was delivered at the ‘Two Sessions’ of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Congress. The work report reviewed the last year before covering ten main areas of focus for 2019.

Stance

As expected, today’s work report covered topics that are crucial for China’s future development. These include economic issues such as China’s 2019 growth target of 6 to 6.5 per cent, its deleveraging campaign and its plans to lower taxes and fees throughout the economy, as well as social issues such as poverty alleviation, healthcare and environmental protection. In all of these areas European businesses can provide high quality products and services, as well as share their experiences, to help China reach the specific targets for improvement laid out in the report, but only if they have the right conditions. The European Chamber therefore urges China to follow through on the commitments made to expand market access, and provide equal treatment and an effective regulatory environment.

While there has been a recent surge in concern among its members over China’s economy and the tapering off of its previous deleveraging efforts, the structural issues that persist in China’s economic system remain the Chamber’s top advocacy priority. Creating an effective regulatory system is key to unlocking new growth to balance against the economic slowdown, while improving the business environment and fostering greater choice and better outcomes for consumers. For example:

  • Permitting foreign financial institutions access to various licences would allow them to expand into China and provide a greater variety of financial services to their customers.
  • Raising standards for building energy efficiency would create new jobs to, among other things, produce, install, service and inspect insulating materials, all while decreasing energy consumption and pollution.
  • Revising procurement standards to ensure that tendering processes treat all bids fairly, regardless of ‘nationality’, and that the quality and lifespan of products are taken into account, would drive greater outcomes for consumers without driving up costs in the long-run. 
  • Providing reliable, affordable and accessible mechanisms for companies to connect to the global internet would remove an arduous day-to-day burden on business, and also resolve one of the most significant barriers to international talent that might otherwise bring their skills to China.

The heavy focus on regulatory and administrative reform found throughout the work report has the potential to spur action at all levels of government, and lead to the kind of concrete results that the European business community has long been waiting for.

“We hope that the work report provides real impetus to create a fair and well-regulated Chinese market with global characteristics,” said Mats Harborn, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China.

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June Yu