New Era in China ushering in new business opportunities

In his keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia 2018 (BFA) on April 10, President Xi Jinping described economic globalisation as an irreversible trend, and noted that China would continue on its course of opening-up. This is positive news for enterprise, as extended opening-up will bolster investor confidence globally, while leading to a wide range of new business opportunities.

Against the backdrop of the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up, President Xi announced steps would be taken to widen market access significantly, create a more attractive investment environment, strengthen protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) and expand imports.

The Government Work Report released earlier this year had touched on most of these measures, but the current trade environment has given them new significance. Measures for enhancing alignment with international economic and trading rules, along with increasing transparency were specified, being regarded as particularly important for China’s development at this stage.

Measures on China’s further opening up and business implications include:

1. Further opening up in the financial sector

The People’s Bank of China unveiled policy details as well as a timeline on 11 April, with policies focusing on expanding market access and lifting ownership restrictions. This series of deeper financial opening-up measures are beneficial to both China and the global financial industry, as it will create new opportunities for domestic and foreign players in the areas of market competition, channels, products and services, customer experience, and operations.

2. Further opening up in the auto sector

The market entry restrictions for the auto industry would be phased out over the next five years. Gradually lifting the market entry barriers for new energy vehicles, as well as commercial and passenger vehicles will help home-grown brands optimise their production capacity structure and ramp up investments in research & development and production operations, thereby improving their competitive edge in international markets.

3. Taking the initiative to expand imports

The reduction of auto and anti-cancer drug tariffs will allow foreign models to be introduced to the country at a lower price. This may bring pressure to Chinese domestic enterprises initially, but it also motivates the Chinese enterprises to enhance their capabilities and adjust to the competitiveness of the international market.

4. Creating a more attractive investment environment

It can be anticipated that in the future, China will create a more fair and stable tax and business environment for taxpayers by focusing on both “reducing tax burdens” and “facilitating tax compliance”. The evolving tax and business environment are crucial for enhancing a country’s soft competitive power.

5. Strengthening the protection of intellectual property rights

In addition to actions taken at the national level, enterprises need to strengthen the protection of their IPR, investing more in enhancing their awareness and ability to innovate, and continually attract and cultivate innovative talent. By doing so, together with the government, they could effectively push IPR progress to a higher level.

6. Benefitting from the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

Future BRI projects will also likely pay closer attention to effects on the environment and seek to minimise environmental impacts in order to achieve the goal of “shared benefits” for all. The BRI is also not just about Chinese outbound projects, but also concerns foreign investment into China.

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2017 APEC CEO Survey China Report

Chinese firms seek growth through trade.

More than 200 CEO’s in China and Hong Kong were interviewed on the theme of A World in Transition. Executives share with us their business confidence levels, their perception of trade trends, how businesses are organising themselves, their operational challenges, and their outlook and expectations of new trade orientations.

Key findings of the China report:

  • Survey revealed that 23% of executives in China think that significant progress has been made towards free trade across the Asia Pacific region in the last 12 months, up from 15% in 2016. Moreover, 33% of the executives surveyed in China believe that revenue opportunities will increase in the next 12 months due to new trade agreements, compared to 27% of APEC respondents.
  • China’s role in APEC is going to get more prominent as opportunities for exports and fixed asset investments emerge from the BRI initiatives. Given this outlook, not only do executives in China expect APEC to play a larger role in facilitating economic growth and cooperation for the region, accelerating economic integration of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) (33%) and facilitating labour mobility (26%) are priorities identified by executives in China.
    Survey found that 39% of the executives in China are “very confident” about their company’s prospects for revenue growth in the next 12 months compared to 24% who reported the same in 2016 .
  • In terms of digital transformation, survey shows that the percentage of executives in China “automating certain functions in their organisation” will increase from 64% today to 83% in three years.
  • In terms of emerging technology impacting the workforce, about 51% of executives in China reported that they expect to move to new structures of employment including more ‘gig’ talent and outsourced labour in three years compared to 31% of the executives today.

 

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China Economic Quarterly November 2017

Overall 2017 economy likely to outperform market expectations, despite moderately slower growth in third quarter.

This latest issue of China Economic Quarterly, which provides analysis of major economic data points in China for Q3 2017, summarises main policy developments and discusses hot topics of interest. In the third quarter, China’s GDP growth slowed slightly as expected to 6.8%, partly due to the government’s efforts to rein in property investment and debt risks.

Here are some highlights of the macro economic and policy updates:

  • The economic growth rate in 2017 is likely to demonstrate a better performance than that of 2016 and beat the market expectation of 6.7% thanks to the strong contribution from the service sectors.
  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has upgraded its economic forecast for China to 6.8% and 6.5% for 2017 and 2018 respectively. This is the fourth time this year that the IMF has upgraded China’s economic forecast.
  • As the national and local governments step up their restrictive policies to further curb speculation, property sales might decrease in the fourth quarter and next year.
  • China’s imports and exports had the best performance amongst all major economic indicators, thanks to the moderate recovery of global economy and fairly strong domestic demand.
  • China will step up efforts to protect the legal rights and interests of entrepreneurs, strengthen protection of intellectual property rights (IPR), fight against monopolies, unfair competition practices and regional protectionism, and remove regulations that undermine fair competition.

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To read more, you can access the latest issue of China Economic Quarterly by clicking the following links:

China:           www.pwccn.com/ceq
Hong Kong:  www.pwchk.com/ceq

China’s new leadership rolls out new blueprint for future development

The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China which recently concluded (18-24 Oct) in Beijing has proven to be a landmark event. The Party transferred power to a new Political Bureau Standing Committee and fortified guiding theory by adding: the “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era”.

The 19th Party Congress laid out clear visions, principles and a roadmap for China’s development over the coming 30 years. The journey towards building China into a “great modern socialist country” by 2049 will lead to profound impacts on China’s economic and social development in the next three decades, and concurrently, will generate significant repercussions that will resonate around the world.

Consequently, PwC has developed an in-depth review of the Party’s policy roadmap along with its impacts for potential investors and corporations operating in China. Details are provided on the following important topics:

• The economy
• Financial risk and bad debt
• RMB and monetary policy
• SOE reform
• Private entrepreneurship
• Foreign investment in China and China’s outbound investment

The business review also highlights three particular bright spots for future investment:

  • Technology and innovation
  • Improving people’s wellbeing
  • Green development/environmental protection.

To find out more, please see below the full business review of China’s 19th Party Congress.

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China Economic Quarterly May 2017

What to expect from Made in China 2025 and China’s first Belt and Road Forum

The China Economic Quarterly is a market outlook prepared on a quarterly basis by PwC to share the latest economic and policy updates. In this third quarter update, the overview of China’s macro trends are followed by a summary of the main policy developments and hot topics of interest such as policy updates for a new economic zone Xiong’an New Area, insights into the “Made in China 2025” initiative and the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation to be held in Beijing on 14 and 15 May 2017.

China’s economic growth in the first quarter of 2017 delivered a much better result than market expectations. GDP increased by 6.9% year-on-year – the highest growth over the past five quarters, thanks to more pro-active fiscal stimuli and continued expansionary monetary policies.

Here are some highlights of the report:

  • The primary, secondary and tertiary (services) industries all grew, with services as a share of GDP reaching a new high of 56.6% and contributing 61.7% to overall economic growth.
  • In the first quarter of 2017, China maintained its expansionary monetary policy. The increments of Aggregate Financing to the Real Economy (AFRE) were RMB 6.93 trillion, which was RMB 226.8 billion more than the same period last year.
  • In a bid to address severe traffic congestion and air pollution in Beijing, the Chinese government announced a historic plan on 1 April 2017 to create Xiong’an New Area, a new economic zone about 100 km southwest of Beijing, with an initial area of around 100 square km and eventually expanding to nearly three times the size of New York City.
  • “Made in China 2025” is China’s first ten-year plan for manufacturing expansion and upgrading and has attracted criticisms for being “problematic” with the potential to be used to “discriminate against foreign firms in favour of Chinese competitors”.

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china_economic_quarterly_nov2016To read more, you can access the latest issue of China Economic Quarterly by clicking the following links:

China:           www.pwccn.com/ceq
Hong Kong:  www.pwchk.com/ceq

 

Switzerland: New social security treaty between Switzerland and China

A social security treaty between Switzerland and the People’s Republic of China (China) will enter into force on 19 June 2017. The maximum posting period is 72 months. For the duration of the posting employees (regardless their nationality) are exempt from the compulsory insurance obligations of the country of occupation which are covered in the social security treaty. As from 19 June 2017 it will be possible to obtain a Certificate of Coverage.

 

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Contact

Véronique Schaller
+41 58 792 5036
veronique.schaller-wiesli@ch.pwc.com

Natalia Graf
+41 58 792 4324
natalia.graf@ch.pwc.com

 

Business Review of Premier Li Keqiang’s Government Work Report 2017

March 2017

China recently held the 12th National People’s Congress in Beijing. Premier Li Keqiang announced a number of key policies and initiatives which sets the country’s economic direction. These changes will have profound implications on the business landscape in 2017 and beyond. As part of the Congress, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang delivered the Government Work Report which provides a review of:

I.   Government’s achievements in 2016;
II.  Government’s goals and priorities for 2017; and
III. Government’s plans and actions to improve quality and effectiveness of growth.

Key highlights of the Report

Economic growth rate

  • GDP growth rate for the coming year has been set realistically at “around 6.5%, or higher if possible in practice,” relative to the range of 6.5-7% for 2016.

Fixed and private investments

  • The government will invest 800 billion yuan in railway construction and 1.8 trillion yuan in highway and waterway projects in 2017 while continuing its massive investments in major state projects.
  • To encourage growth in private investments, the government plans to improve policies as well as public administration and promote Public Private Partnerships.

Emerging industries and investment hot-spots

  • The government plans to accelerate the R&D and commercialisation of new materials, artificial intelligence, integrated circuits, and bio-pharmacy and 5-G mobile communications.
  • The government has also set aggressive targets for environmental protection and plans to launch extensive ‘Fitness-for-All’ initiatives, creating business opportunities in education, elderly care, healthcare, tourism, e-commerce and creative services.

Pro-business reforms

  • The government plans to make service industries, manufacturing, and mining more open to foreign-invested firms (FIEs).
  • There are also plans to treat FIEs the same as domestic firms on applications, standards-setting and government procurement and allowing FIEs to enjoy the same preferential policies under the Made in China 2025 initiative.

Real estate sector

  • In 2017, the government will establish robust long-term mechanisms to promote steady and sound development of the real estate sector to restrict further investment and “speculative” purchases by residents and investors.

RMB exchange rate and bad debt

  • To address the rising non-performing loans, Premier Li has pledged to reform the financial regulatory system and work systematically to defuse major potential risks.

Leap ahead: 2016 China tax policy review and 2017 outlook

China Tax Policy Review and Outlook is a series of PwC China Tax annual publication designed to review key tax policy developments in China and discuss the trends and impacts to Chinese businesses from a forward-looking perspective. This 2016 China Tax Policy Review and 2017 Outlook is the second issue in the series.

2016 was a year of transition for China. It was also the first year of the 13th Five-Year Plan. The State Administration of Taxation has released a series of tax policies to support the transition of China’s economy. Turning eyes to the international taxation, China has voiced out her stance on international collaboration to foster growth, innovation and transparency, and her goal to establish a modern tax administrative system by 2020.

Highlights of the 2016 China Tax Policy Review and 2017 Outlook: 

  • Impact of the Business Tax to Value-added Tax Transformation Reform and outlook of the next phase of VAT reform
  • Innovation-driven tax incentives related to High-New Technology Enterprises, equity incentive plans, etc. and “green tax” initiatives (Resource Tax and Environmental Protection Tax)
  • Development of tax transparency (e.g. Country-by-Country Report and Common Reporting Standard) echoed by China’s digital administrative strategy (“Golden Tax III” and “Thousand Groups Project”) New trend of tax dispute resolution mechanism (e.g. tax administrative appeal and court litigation, Advance Pricing Arrangement, Mutual Agreement Procedure)
  • Key words for 2017 outlook, e.g. anti-tax avoidance, localisation of BEPS recommendations, details of Environmental Protection Tax Law, further cut in tax and government levies

With China’s increasing influence on the global economy and international taxation, we have more to expect in the years to come. As Mr. Wang Jun, the SAT Commissioner, commented, “The SAT will step up effort in 2017 to balance its focus on inbound and outbound taxation, and refine some of the existing rules to add more certainty and clarity.” Policies in the 2017 pipeline may include revised anti-avoidance rules related to Controlled Foreign Corporations, Thin Capitalization, etc.; rules to further implement the BEPS project recommendations regarding anti-treaty abuse; landmark reforms in terms of Individual Income Tax, Property Tax; the elaboration on the implementation of the Environmental Protection Tax Law; further cut in non-tax government levies; and what taxpayers are most earnestly waiting for, the new look of the Tax Collection and Administration Law.


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Asia: digitally diverse, economically attractive

Digitisation is in full swing in Asia, and is having an impact on both business and society. But the picture is mixed: while Asian countries are setting the trend and the pace in some areas, they need to catch up in others. As a leader in innovation and engineering, Switzerland will continue to play a key role in the economic and geocultural exchange with Asia.

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China Economic Quarterly February 2017

China announces new measures to attract foreign investment in 2017

The China Economic Quarterly is a market outlook prepared on a quarterly basis by PwC to share the latest economic and policy updates. In this fourth quarter update, the overview of China’s macro trends are followed by a summary of the main policy developments and hot topics of interest such as what China plans to do in 2017 and what’s next for the Renminbi.

Major economic indicators

pwc_china economic quarterly q4 2016

 

  • China’s GDP in the fourth quarter of 2016 increased by 6.8%, resulting in the overall GDP growth of 6.7% for the whole year over 2015.
  • Fixed asset investment remained a key driver for China’s economic growth, growing 8.1% over last year and accounting for 80% of GDP.
  • Massive money supply has exerted great pressure on RMB’s exchange rate, which fell from RMB 6.55 per dollar at the beginning of the year to RMB 6.92 per dollar at the end of 2016.
  • China’s manufacturing purchasing managers index (PMI) experienced the highest performance since 2012 in the fourth quarter of 2016, thanks to booming domestic demand, rising prices and growing activities in high-end manufacturing.

Policy update

  • China’s State Council announced on 17 January 2017 an unprecedented set of new measures to attract foreign investment. These measures aim to lower market entry restrictions on foreign investment in several sectors including banking, insurance, futures and others.
  • China has issued its 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) to strengthen the protection and utilisation of intellectual property rights (IPRs). The plan laid out 7 major tasks for the development of IPRs, such as improving the legal system and protection for IPRs, promoting industrial upgrading and international cooperation.

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To find out more about the market outlook and its implications for businesses in China, please click this link:

China: www.pwccn.com/ceq
Hong Kong: www.pwchk.com/ceq