President Xi began with a summary of accomplishments made since the 2019 Expo, pointing out that China worked on expanding imports, reduced the number of items on the national negative list for foreign investment from 40 to 33, and increased the number of pilot free trade zones from 18 to 21.
In addition, President Xi highlighted that both the master plan for the Hainan Free Trade Port and the implementation plan for continued opening-up in Shenzhen had taken effect. Then he looked to goals for the coming year.
President Xi made it clear that China will continue to use pilot free trade zones and free trade ports to spearhead further opening up of the economy, including the digital economy and the Internet.
A negative list for cross-border services trade will be created, and the catalog of restricted or prohibited technologies for import will be shortened. China will encourage cross border e-commerce and other new business platforms as drivers for foreign trade.
In an effort to improve the overall business environment and support foreign companies doing business in China, the government will offer more high-quality services to foreign investors, strengthen intellectual property protection, and overall improve protection of other rights and interests of foreign investors.
On the international front, China will engage in further cooperation with other countries through bilateral, multilateral and/or regional agreements, including free trade agreements.
China has already signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Now the country is negotiating a China-EU investment treaty and entering into a China-Japan-ROK free trade agreement.
Furthermore, China plans to take an active role in WTO reform through cooperation with the United Nations, the G20, APEC, and BRICS. The country will also continue to promote high-quality Belt and Road cooperation projects.
It is expected that relevant government agencies will quickly act on President Xi’s vision for further opening up China’s economy by releasing a number of new implementation rules during the coming year.
Domestic and foreign investors or companies doing cross-border business will no doubt benefit from these efforts and can look forward to increasingly simplified regulations and requirements for doing business in China.
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