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News from China
Opinions sought on business climate
16th July 2019
China's top economic planner is asking for public opinions until August 12 on a regulation concerning improving the business environment, the Economic Information Daily reported yesterday.
Aiming to regulate the process of improving the business environment, the document stresses treating all market entities equally, the newspaper reported quoting a statement from the National Development and Reform Commission.
As China implements unified negative lists for market access across the country, industries, fields and businesses not on the lists are open to all market players for investment, according to the regulation.
All market entities, regardless of their ownership, are equal in gaining production factors including personnel, capital and land usage as well as participation in market competition, according to the regulation.
The document has clarified rules from setting up a business, obtaining approval for investment, assets registration, and applying for bankruptcy to tax payment.
Rolled out by the NDRC and other departments, the regulation will help to better implement policy measures made by the central authorities on optimizing the business environment, said the report.
Source: Shanghai Daily, July 16, 2019
China's resident disposable income expands faster than economy
15th July 2019

 China's per capita disposable income stood at 15,294 yuan (US$2,227) in the first half of 2019, up 8.8 percent year on year in nominal terms, official data showed Monday.

The inflation-adjusted growth was 6.5 percent, 0.2 percentage points higher than the 6.3-percent growth rate for the Chinese economy from January to June, according to a statement of the National Bureau of Statistics.
During the period, the per capita disposable income in rural areas continued to grow faster than that in urban regions, indicating the closing of the urban-rural income gap, according to NBS data.
The average per capita disposable income for rural residents reached 7,778 yuan from January to June, up 6.6 percent after deducting price factors, while that of urban residents rose 5.7 percent in real terms to 21,342 yuan.
China aims to double the per capita income of its urban and rural residents by 2020 from the 2010 levels, to build a moderately prosperous society.
Source: Shanghai Daily, July 15, 2019
Trump orders probe into France tax on tech giants
12th July 2019

 France's Senate gave final approval to a tax on big technology companies yesterday, potentially opening up a new front in a trade row between Washington and the European Union.

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday ordered an investigation into the tax, which could lead to the United States imposing new tariffs or other trade restrictions. “Between allies, we can and should solve our disputes not by threats but through other ways,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told senators before the final vote.
The 3 percent levy will apply to revenue from digital services earned in France by firms with more than 25 million euros (US$28 million) in French revenue and 750 million euros worldwide. It is due to kick in retroactively from the start of 2019.
France pushed ahead with the tax after EU countries failed to agree a levy valid across the bloc in the face of opposition from Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. “France is a sovereign country, its decisions on tax matters are sovereign and will continue to be sovereign,” Le Maire said.
Other EU countries including Austria, Britain, Spain and Italy have also announced plans for their own digital taxes. They say a levy is needed because big, multinational Internet companies such as Facebook and Amazon are currently able to book profits in low-tax countries like Ireland, no matter where the revenue originates.
Political pressure to respond has been growing as local retailers in high streets and online have been disadvantaged; French President Emmanuel Macron has said that taxing big tech more heavily is an issue of social justice. Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said in May that national taxes targeting mostly US-based digital firms were “highly likely to exacerbate global trade tensions and damage cross-border trade and investment,” and would make it harder to reach agreement on a global reform.
The ASIC French lobby representing firms like Facebook, Google, Amazon, Twitter and Airbnb warned of a wider impact. “By attempting to unilaterally overtax American players, Bruno Le Maire has triggered a trade war that penalizes French technology today and will penalize tomorrow many sectors that make the French economy successful, including wine, automobiles and luxury,” ACIS President Giuseppe de Martino said.
The digital tax spat is separate from the transatlantic trade row, but could be used by Trump to try to obtain EU concessions on the trade front.
Source: Shanghai Daily, July 12, 2019
US launches Section 301 investigation into French digital services tax
11th July 2019

 The United States has launched a Section 301 investigation into France's planned tax on digital services, the Office of the US Trade Representative announced on Wednesday.

"The United States is very concerned that the digital services tax which is expected to pass the French Senate tomorrow unfairly targets American companies," USTR Robert Lighthizer said in a statement.
"The President has directed that we investigate the effects of this legislation and determine whether it is discriminatory or unreasonable and burdens or restricts United States commerce," Lighthizer said.
France's lower house of parliament approved Thursday a tax bill targeting multinational digital giants. The bill foresees a 3-percent tax on the French revenues of digital companies with global revenue of more than 750 million euros, and French revenue over 25 million euros.
"The structure of the proposed new tax as well as statements by officials suggest that France is unfairly targeting the tax at certain US-based technology companies," the statement claimed.
The United States will continue its efforts with other countries at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to reach a multilateral agreement to address the challenges to the international tax system posed by an increasingly digitized global economy, the USTR office said.
The Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), a Washington-based trade association representing the information and communications technology industry, on Wednesday urged the US government not to use tariffs as a remedy.
"We support the US government's efforts to investigate these complex trade issues but urge it to pursue the 301 investigation in a spirit of international cooperation and without using tariffs as a remedy," said Jennifer McCloskey, ITI's vice president of policy, in a statement.
"It is critical that countries around the world cooperate to address these questions, and the ongoing OECD discussions are a promising example of the international collaboration that is necessary to resolve these issues fairly and thoughtfully," McCloskey said.
The so-called Section 301, under an outdated US trade law adopted in 1974, allows the US president to unilaterally impose tariffs or other trade restrictions on foreign countries. The latest Section 301 investigation could lead the United States to impose new tariffs on French imports, if Washington and Paris cannot reach a negotiated settlement.
The global trading community has become increasingly concerned that the US government's frequent use of Section 301 would go against the World Trade Organization rules, undermine the multilateral trading system and disrupt the global supply chain.
Source: Shanghai Daily, July 11,2019

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