Editor's note：Foreign direct investment into the Chinese mainland, in terms of actual use, rose 15.9 percent year-on-year to 1.04 trillion yuan ($163 billion) in the first eleven months of 2021, surpassing the whole-year FDI in 2020, data from the Ministry of Commerce showed.
Foreign investment in China achieved faster-than-expected growth last year thanks to efforts by different government departments at both the central and local levels to attract foreign investment.
China has remained steadfast in opening up wider with a series of major measures, further facilitating foreign entry to the country and improving its business environment.
New plans for Greater Bay Area
In September 2021, China issued two new plans for developing Qianhai, a special cooperation zone in Shenzhen, and Hengqin, an island in Zhuhai, both cities in southern Guangdong province.
The new plans mark the country's latest move to further deepen reform and opening-up, providing ample opportunities for the long-term development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.
Development plan for FDI use
On Oct 22, 2021, China's Ministry of Commerce (MOC) issued a plan for the use of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025), showing the country’s efforts to continuously boost high-level opening-up to attract global high-quality resources.
MOC has also pledged to improve the quality of FDI use while keeping the quantity stable. The FDI will help further improve industrial and supply chains while improving the business environment for foreign investors, the ministry said.
China’s carbon market begins trading
On July 16, 2021, China inaugurated its national carbon market, with a trading center located in Shanghai and carbon quota registration system in Wuhan, Hubei province.
The market currently includes over 2,000 companies in the power generation sector and trades over 4.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year. It replaces the European Union's carbon trading program as the world's largest such mechanism. In the future, the market will be extended to include another seven major carbon-emitting industries, including steel, chemicals and papermaking.
In November, the national carbon market saw a trading volume of 23.03 million metric tons, with a turnover of 939 million yuan ($147.32 million), accounting for almost half of the total since its launch.
Beijing Stock Exchange debuts
The Beijing Stock Exchange, China's newest bourse that serves small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), started trading on Nov 15, 2021.
Initially built on the existing National Equities Exchange and Quotations, or the "new third board", the BSE is a key step forward in China's efforts to create a wholesome multilevel capital market.
As of Dec 3, 2021, 82 companies were listed on the bourse, with a total market value of 263.2 billion yuan ($41.1 million).
China to beef up IPR protection
In recent years, China has made continuous efforts to strengthen intellectual property rights (IPR) protection to provide convenient, efficient and low-cost rights protection channels for market entities.
There are currently 28 rapid IPR protection centers nationwide, among which six were established in 2021.
On Oct 28, 2021, China issued a major plan for IPR protection and application works for the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025), a blueprint with detailed targets and measures for the country to embark on a journey to strengthen its intellectual property undertakings.
China’s legislative system for IPR protection has also been improved. The revised patent law and copyright law took effect on June 1, 2021, to meet the needs of the digital age.
New measure to improve business environment
China on Nov 25, 2021 issued a guideline on rolling out a pilot program to improve the business environment in six cities – Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing, as well as Hangzhou in Zhejiang province and Guangdong province's Guangzhou and Shenzhen. The six cities will offer diversified, efficient and convenient services to foreign businesses looking to settle disputes, including measures to develop centers that provide one-stop services.
The program marked the latest national efforts to tailor the country's business environment to international standards and will offer foreign citizens, especially entrepreneurs, a better business and living experience in China, said Ma Liang, a professor of public management at Renmin University of China.
China to boost cooperation with Africa
China has always supported the African Union in playing an important role in African development and integration, and other international and regional affairs.
China's first free trade agreement with an African country, the China-Mauritius Free Trade Agreement, went into effect on Jan 1, 2021, marking a new beginning in Sino-African trade cooperation and paving the way for more bilateral economic and trade cooperation between China and other African countries in the post-pandemic period, which will upgrade and eventually transform Sino-African trade.
And over the years, China and African countries have made remarkable achievements in trade cooperation and various other fields.
China’s negative lists get shorter
On Oct 27, 2021, China unveiled two shortened negative lists for foreign investment as part of efforts to further open up the economy and promote high-quality economic development, marking the fifth consecutive year that the world's second-largest economy has revised its national negative list and pilot free trade zone (FTZ) negative list.
The number of items that are off-limits for foreign investors will be cut to 31 in the 2021 version of the national negative list from 33 in the 2020 version, and the number of items on the pilot FTZ negative list will be reduced to 27 from 30 in the 2020 version.
China’s first negative list for cross-border trade in services was unveiled and took effect at the Hainan Free Trade Port on Aug 26, 2021. The negative list specifies 70 special administrative measures for 11 sectors, including shipping, retail, logistics, finance and education, for overseas service providers.
The 4th CIIE in Shanghai
The fourth edition of the China International Import Expo, the first import-themed national-level exhibition in the world, was held in Shanghai between Nov 5 and 10.
This year's event drew nearly 3,000 enterprises from 127 countries and regions. A total of 281 Fortune 500 companies and industry leaders attended this year's exhibition, with 40 newcomers for CIIE and 120 participating in the event for the fourth consecutive year. A record 422 new products, technologies and service items were released at the event, in product categories that included low-carbon, digital, intelligence, health and art.
The continuous success of the CIIE has demonstrated that countries around the world are confident in China's high-level opening-up and have a common aspiration for building an open world economy for a shared future.
New measure for trade and investment in FTZs
On Sept 3, 2021, China issued a guideline on promoting reform and innovation measures to facilitate trade and investment in the country's free trade zones.
The guideline will effectively facilitate foreign investment in China, particularly in the services sector, and demonstrates China's resolution for greater opening-up efforts.
Wang Shouwen, vice-minister of commerce, said at a news briefing that the new measures are expected to enhance trade facilitation in pilot FTZs.
The potential of new trade norms will be unleashed and support will be extended to help the pilot FTZs develop offshore trade, Wang said.