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Spirit of free enterprise attracts investment

By Li You China Daily Updated: 2024-03-06

Jiangsu province city revitalizes its business environment through government initiatives

Nantong in East China's Jiangsu province enhanced its position as a destination for investment and business on Feb 18 when the local government held a city-level mobilization meeting about upgrades to the business environment.

The event, which called on government departments to fully engage in the work, released the city's regulations for optimizing the business environment and a guideline for its Business Environment Improvement Year Initiative.

The regulations for optimizing the business environment came into effect on Friday, proposing that government departments should identify and deal with the common difficulties encountered by market entities and innovate the way services are provided.

"The business environment is a barometer of the government's work," said Nantong Mayor Zhang Tong. The official said that 153 prominent problems were identified and rectified in 2023. More than 12 billion yuan ($1.67 billion) for tax reduction, fee reduction and deferred tax refunds were provided to the market, with 4.34 billion yuan in funds benefiting enterprises.

The Huiqitong enterprise service platform was launched to provide comprehensive services to enterprises. Based on this, Nantong stood out from the other cities in Jiangsu in terms of the business environment.

Policy iteration

Since 2022, Nantong has been promoting the Business Environment Improvement Year Initiative by launching 66 Wanshi Haotong branded articles, followed by its version 3.0 over three consecutive years to construct a more attractive and competitive development ecosystem. The innovative practices under the framework of Wanshi Haotong have been recommended by the State Council four times.

In 2023, Nantong saw the launch of 144,000 new business entities and 1,428 scientific and technological innovation projects. Around 700 high-tech enterprises were newly established, a historical high. There were 389 new domestic projects with an investment of more than 500 million yuan for each and 97 new foreign-funded projects worth more than $30 million for each.

Haimen district in the city also compiled an investment project construction approval service list to promote the working processes of different government departments, so as to help the rapid implementation, commencement and production of projects.

At the beginning of the new year, the local government formulated the optimization of its business environment action plan for the next three years. It did this after investigating and learning from the practices of Shanghai, southern Jiangsu and other areas.

To assist the shipping industry in its major ports, the Nantong maritime bureau provided a package of streamlined services for the export permits of international ships.

Gao Kun, a staff member of a local shipping agency, said: "It used to take at least half a day to handle the departure of a ship in the past. Now, it only takes a couple of hours, greatly improving the efficiency of ships leaving the port."

According to statistics, more than 10,000 international vessels departing Nantong have enjoyed this service, reducing the turnaround time by about 83,000 hours in total and achieving fast processing for international ships.

Benefits to investors

A favorable business environment is a driving force for local economic development. The business environment has become a powerful engine in Nantong, stimulating the vitality of market entities and promoting high-quality economic development, local officials said.

"We received a 1.54 million yuan export tax rebate and enjoyed a 5.66 million yuan tax-free amount. The tax rebate was refunded to our company's account within three working days. It greatly relieved the financial pressure on our company due to the shortened processing time," said Gong Junlian, a finance worker at Jiangsu Frida New Material.

This significant tax rebate will be used to introduce new production lines and waste gas treatment equipment in the second half of 2024 in its factories.

Nantong-based Reshine New Material received a 10 million yuan special subsidy for industrial transformation and upgrading. It applied for a technological transformation project through the Wanshi Haotong platform for a Nickel-Cobalt-Manganese Lithium/Lithium Manganese Oxide Battery Cathode Material Technology Transformation Project.

Addressing the issues in certification application for enterprises, Nantong has taken the lead in exploring a package of processing approaches for licenses and certificates. It plans to develop an intelligent integrated application platform that enables market entities to understand industry admission and operation requirements and combine the applications based on their business field.

This will achieve quick processing for 10 types of admission and operation matters, including supermarkets and convenience stores; restaurants; food stores; bakeries; pharmacies; gyms; hair salons; beauty salons; auto repair shops and car washes.

The business operator of Nantong Erdong Glasses completed the licensing procedures for a new eyewear store in less than five working days. A staff member surnamed Chen from the company said that she didn't expected it to be so easy to obtain both the business license and the third-class medical device operation permit.

"Nantong is investing real efforts in promoting the delegated regulation and service reform and assisting enterprise admission and operation. The business environment is getting better and better," she said.

Centering on high-quality development, the seven counties and districts under Nantong's jurisdiction have been competing with each other and so far the economic output for each county and district has all exceeded 130 billion yuan.

The Nantong National High-tech Industrial Development Zone, the Suxitong Science and Technology Industrial Park and the Tongzhou Bay Demonstration Zone — three representative development zones in Nantong — are also gaining new paths of county-level economic development with Nantong characteristics by learning from each other and attracting projects from the developed areas.

"The improvement of administrative work and the enhancement of the business environment are never-ending tasks," said Wu Xinming, Party secretary of the Nantong city's Party committee. He emphasized the need to continuously deepen reforms, promote institutional innovation, optimize government services and create development advantages with a high-standard business environment.