China’s business environment showed one of the strongest improvements worldwide in the 12 months ending May 1 thanks to its robust reform agenda, the World Bank Group said on Thursday.
China’s ranking in the World Bank Group’s Doing Business 2020 study climbed to 31st place in terms of ease of doing business, up from 46th a year earlier and 78th in 2017, the bank said.
It was the second year that China joined the group of the world’s top 10 most improved economies, mainly due to several business reforms, the report said.
“China has undertaken substantial efforts to improve the domestic business climate for small and medium-sized enterprises, maintaining an active pace of reforms,” said Martin Raiser, World Bank country director for China.
“Laudable progress has been achieved on a number of Doing Business indicators, particularly in the area of construction permitting,” Raiser said.
The report credited China with improving protections for investors, strengthening procedures for enforcing contracts and making trade easier with changes to customs administration and port infrastructure.
“Removing barriers facing entrepreneurs generates better jobs, more tax revenue and higher incomes, all of which are necessary to reduce poverty and raise living standards,” World Bank Group President David Malpass said in a statement.
The World Bank highlighted some key reforms in the report including implementing a preferential corporate income tax rate for small enterprises, reducing the value-added tax rate for certain industries and enhancing the electronic filing and payment system.
Other key reforms included simplifying import and export procedures by implementing advanced cargo declarations, upgrading port infrastructure, optimizing customs administration and publishing fee schedules.
China has made strenuous efforts in recent years to improve its business environment.
The Ministry of Finance, for example, has jointly worked with other government departments, as well as the Beijing and Shanghai municipal governments, to clarify specific reform targets and policies to improve the business environment in recent years.
More than 130 reform measures have been taken so far, such as the protection of investors and improvements in processing construction permits, the ministry said.
China unveiled a regulation on Wednesday to further improve its business environment and further open up its economy.
The regulation will offer market guarantees for companies investing or expanding their business in China. Equal treatment will be given to all market entities, whether foreign or domestic, by establishing basic institutional norms in the business environment, according to the new regulation.
China will continue to roll out new measures to elevate its economic opening-up to a higher level, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily news briefing in answer to a reporter’s question about the World Bank study on Thursday.
She said the report is a vote of confidence in China’s reform and opening-up as well as its promising economic prospects, adding that it welcomes more foreign businesses to invest and operate in China and share in the country’s opportunities.
Yuan Dongming, a senior researcher at the State Council’s Development Research Center, said the World Bank’s improved ranking of China is recognition of the country’s efforts in improving its business environment, and is also affirmation of the achievements of the country’s reform and opening-up measures.
Wu Jianfeng, a management professor at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, said that it is getting easier to do business in China, and more reform measures are expected in the future. “The government is advised to hear more suggestions from companies to enhance the reforms,” Wu said.
Zhou Jin contributed to this story.