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Shanghai streamlines project approval

By HE WEI in Shanghai | China Daily| Updated: January 14, 2022

Shanghai has streamlined the approval and filing process for foreign investment projects in the latest attempt to optimize the business environment and attract foreign capital.

The city, already home to the largest number of multinational corporations' headquarters in China, is simplifying documents needed for new investment registrations in the "Procedures of Shanghai Municipality on the Administration of Approval and Filing of Projects with Foreign Investment", published on Wednesday.

The municipal government is slashing the number of documents required for approval of newly established or acquired projects of foreign investors and foreign-invested enterprises involving fixed-asset investment in Shanghai.

"Shanghai will seize new opportunities of opening-up by stabilizing existing investment, advancing new investment and enhancing the quality of investment to attract foreign capital and promote the high-quality development of an open economy," said Peng Yihao, vice-director of the Shanghai Municipal Development and Reform Commission, during a news conference.

To be first piloted in Shanghai's Pudong New Area, China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone and its Lin-gang New Area, and Hongqiao International Open Hub, the new measures will be in effect between March 1, 2022 and Feb 28, 2027.

The new rules scrap previous requirements for the submission of financial statements, capital credit certificates and State-owned assets investment confirmation documents to complete an application report.

After the reform, companies only need to submit main certification materials of Chinese and foreign investors, letters of intent for investment, resolution of the board of directors of the company or its highest authority on the capital increase or project merger or acquisition, land planning proposals, a paid use contract for the right to use State-owned construction land or a market entry contract for collective construction, as well as other necessary documents required by law.

The new measures highlight the use of the municipal government's proprietary online administrative system called "Government Online-Offline Shanghai", stipulating that all document submissions are to be completed using the site.

In addition, project operators shall not be required to provide duplicate documents that can be obtained by mutual recognition and sharing of data via Government Online-Offline Shanghai.

Foreign investors and enterprises using foreign investment may make their own decisions and bear their own risks in line with market prospects and economic benefits, according to applicable laws.

Project approval and filing organs may not illegally infringe upon companies' investment autonomy, nor are they allowed to impose restrictions on access of foreign investment to areas beyond the Negative List.

Liang Rui, vice-president and head of the robotics division in China at Swiss industrial conglomerate ABB, praised Shanghai's endeavors to "cut red tape and expedite the process to operate locally and smoothly", saying government policies have always been favorable "across all levels".

The year 2021 saw 6,708 new foreign-funded enterprises establish a presence in Shanghai, up 16.6 percent from a year earlier, according to data released on Wednesday by the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce.

The actual use of foreign capital last year reached $22.5 billion, up 11.5 percent year-on-year, hitting another record high.

A total of 831 regional headquarters of MNCs were founded in Shanghai by the end of 2021, with 506 research and development centers established in the city.

Shanghai will continue to seek fresh opportunities represented by the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement to better serve foreign-funded investments, said Zhu Yi, vice-director at the commission.

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