hina’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) issued a new Negative List for Market Entry (2018 Version) on December 25, the first time a unified negative list for market access has been rolled out nationwide.
The latest list, according to officials, is based on the 2016 list which was implemented in 15 pilot municipalities and provinces. The release of the 2018 list indicates that China has formally established a new market entry system based on negative lists, rather than the former positive list.
Xu Shanchang, the NDRC’s institutional reform director, defined the new negative list as a major institutional innovation. “The biggest significance of the list is its nationwide effect,” he said at a press conference held the same day. “No local government department is now allowed to issue any separate negative list, nor are they allowed to alter, add or remove any item in the national list without permission from the State Council,” he added.
The 2018 list consists of two parts, Xu said. These are items that are fully banned by Chinese laws and regulations, plus financial and internet-related businesses banned by the government, and items that require government approval before entry. As for those outside the list, any investors, domestic and foreign, may engage in them equally. Compared to the 2016 trial list, the 2018 list includes 177 fewer prohibitions, many of which relate to the manufacturing and service industries.
Authorities have removed 288 articles relating to management from the 2018 list. Xu said that the focus will shift from advanced approval to one of in-process approval, as well as post-approval supervision and management. He emphasized that no department is allowed to set out-of-list barriers or restrictions on the legal operation of private enterprises.
Analysts have praised the new negative list as proof of China’s decision to open its door wider, saying the list will greatly promote a market-oriented system and boost enterprises. Ye Jun, an official from MOFCOM, pledged at the press conference that authorities will improve the list based on dynamic market development and will continue to remove prohibitions, especially those in the service industry.