EUCCC hails China’s progress, wants more

By Li Xuanmin Source:Global Times Published: 2017/9/27 21:38:40

‘Urgent need’ for opening in some sectors

Mats Harborn Photo: Courtesy of the EUCCC

China has made "substantial progress" in many areas in reforming its economy since  2012, but there are still some areas that are "in urgent need of" more opening-up, an official from the EU business lobby in China has said.

Mats Harborn, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China (EUCCC), highlighted the Chinese government's achievements in areas such as "anti-corruption, anti-monopoly, environment, rule of law and healthcare reform" during an interview with the Global Times Wednesday.

"When there is a consensus for reform, China's ability to carry it out in a timely manner is impressive," Harborn told the Global Times.

For example, based on a survey conducted by the EUCCC among its member companies, the durability of the anti-corruption drive has either met or exceeded the expectations of 81 percent of respondents. This, in turn, "makes it easier for many European businesses to operate in China," according to a report the chamber released last week.

In the pharmaceutical sector, concrete progress in opening-up has been made over the past several years, with authorities streamlining regulations, securing drug safety and improving accessibility for foreign firms, Harborn noted.

Chinese regulators have also taken an open and forward-thinking approach in terms of meeting and communicating with the foreign business community, he noted. In January, for example, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange engaged in dialogue with European businesses about controlling the flow of cash out of the country, said the EUCCC's report.

At the same time, the Chinese government has issued a series of documents such as State Council Document No.5 in recent years with the aim of promoting economic openness and attracting foreign investment.

While the EUCCC appreciates public commitment like this, "the challenge facing the EUCCC is that it has heard similar talk for many years and is therefore questioning whether this time concrete actions will actually result," Harborn said, emphasizing the need for a detailed timeline for reforms.

Another obstacle for European firms operating in China is that they are not entitled to the same favorable policies as their domestic counterparts, according to Harborn.

For example, under the China Manufacturing 2025 initiative, European enterprises in China are still unable to attain the Internet Data Center license that operations require, which limits those companies' ability to choose the service provider most aligned with their needs.

In bilateral economic ties, "reciprocal market access" will also become extremely important in the future, Harborn stressed, and this will play a major role in helping China attract more high-quality foreign investment.

While Chinese companies have faced few limitations when investing in European industries like automotives, financial services, health, insurance, logistics, media and telecommunications in recent years, European companies in China sometimes have difficulty entering these sectors, such as being limited to holding a minority position, according to the EUCCC report.

Harborn said the EUCCC expects to see substantial improvements going forward after an upcoming important Party meeting.


Posted in: ECONOMY

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