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News from China
Unified foreign investment law to lift integrity
24th December 2018

 A draft law on foreign investment was submitted to a bimonthly session of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee on Sunday.

Once adopted, the unified law will replace three existing laws relating to Chinese-foreign equity joint ventures, non-equity joint ventures (or contractual joint ventures) and wholly foreign-owned enterprises.
Necessary mechanisms for the facilitation, protection and management of foreign investment are in the draft law.
These include the pre-establishment national treatment and negative list management, equal supportive policies, and equal participation in government procurement.
China has adopted a foreign investment administration model of pre-establishment national treatment plus negative list.
The move marks an institutional reform in response to new developments in economic globalization and changes in international rules for investment, according to a white paper, entitled China and the World Trade Organization, published in June.
As part of its efforts to further open up, the country unveiled a shortened negative list for foreign investment in June, cutting the number of items down to 48 from 63 and removing access restrictions in various sectors.
China adheres to its basic national policy of opening-up, and welcomes foreign investment, the draft said.
China implements high-standard investment liberalization and facilitation policies, builds and improves foreign investment facilitation systems, and creates a transparent and predictable environment, the draft said.
Analysts said the foreign investment law is meant to promote and protect foreign investment, and ensure foreign businesses enjoy fair treatment, which will boost their confidence in the Chinese market.
Foreign investment has played a positive role in boosting China’s reforms and will remain significant as the country seeks high-quality development, said associate professor Zhao Binghao with the China University of Political Science and Law.
The draft said local governments should rigorously fulfill their policy promises and all types of legal contracts with foreign-funded companies, otherwise, foreign companies should be compensated for their losses.
It underlined protection of intellectual property rights of foreign investors and foreign companies, and encouraged voluntary technological cooperation based on business rules.
It said conditions of technological cooperation concerning foreign investment should be decided by all parties of investment through negotiation, while government departments and officials cannot use administrative means for forced technology transfers.
At the end of November, a total of 950,000 foreign-funded companies became registered in China in line with the current laws and brought in more than US$2 trillion, performing a major driving force in China’s economic and social development.
Source: Shanghai Daily, December 24, 2018
Changes to personal income tax announced
21st December 2018
A new system for calculating individual income tax will take effect from January 1, China’s State Administration of Taxation said yesterday.
The changes outline withholding taxes for residents and non-residents based on salaries and other income sources.
For residents, tax will be assessed by the cumulative withholding method — based on the annual figure and paid monthly.
This makes it easier for most taxpayers with only one source of income of wages to do tax filing and settlement themselves, as their withholding tax at the end of the tax year is basically equal to the annual tax payable.
For taxpayers who need to make up tax refunds, the difference between the amount of tax paid in advance and the annual tax payable is relatively small, and it will not take up too much of the taxpayers’ funds, according to the announcement.
For residents, income from remuneration for personal services, author’s remuneration, and royalties, shall be calculated on the basis of the balance of income after deducting expenses from each payment.
The income from salaries of non-residents will be calculated against the balance of monthly income minus expenses of 5,000 yuan (US$725).
For their income from remuneration for labor services and royalties, the balance of income after deducting 20 percent of expenses shall be taken as the amount of taxable income.
Source: Shanghai Daily, December 21, 2018
US Fed raises rates, but signals slower pace of hikes next year
20th December 2018

 The US Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised short-term interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point, but signaled a slower pace of rate hikes next year as the US economy is expected to cool down.

"In view of realized and expected labor market conditions and inflation, the (Federal Open Market) Committee decided to raise the target range for the federal funds rate to 2-1/4 to 2-1/2 percent," the Fed said in a statement after concluding a two-day policy meeting.
It marked the Fed's fourth rate hike this year and the ninth such move since late 2015, as the central bank moves forward on the path of monetary policy normalization.
The Fed said the US labor market has "continued to strengthen" and economic activity has been "rising at a strong rate" since the last policy meeting in November, while growth of business fixed investment has "moderated" from its rapid pace earlier in the year.
Fed officials expected the US economy to grow at 3 percent this year, a little bit lower than 3.1 percent estimated in September, according to the Fed's latest economic projections released on Wednesday.
Fed officials also revised down their forecast for US economic growth in 2019 to 2.3 percent from 2.5 percent previously estimated.
With an expected slowdown in the US economy, Fed officials envisioned two rate hikes next year, down from three estimated in September, according to the median forecast for the federal funds rate.
"Despite this robust economic backdrop and our expectation for healthy growth, we have seen developments that may signal some softening, relative to what we were expecting a few months ago," Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said Wednesday at a press conference.
"It is more likely that the economy will grow in a way that will call for two interest rate increases over the course of next year," Powell said, adding the tepid inflation gives the Fed the ability to "be patient" in moving forward on rate hikes.
But Powell also emphasized that the Fed's policy decisions are "not on a preset course." "There's a fairly high degree of uncertainty about both the path and the destination of any further increases," he said.
The Fed's meeting came after US President Donald Trump urged the central bank to refrain from further hiking interest rates, citing recent market turmoil.
"Feel the market, don't just go by meaningless numbers," Trump tweeted on early Tuesday.
When asked about how he perceived the market, Powell said that Fed officials would look for material changes in financial conditions as market volatility doesn't necessarily result in major economic impact.
"We follow markets really carefully but remember, from a macroeconomic standpoint, no one market is the single dominant indicator," he said.
Source: Shanghai Daily, Deecember 20, 2018
Prognosis for pharma: healthy times ahead
19th December 2018

 Multinational drug companies are applauding China’s efforts to open its market wider and embrace global healthcare standards.

"Opening up and reform in the past decades have not only brought in foreign capital, but also the latest technologies, the best practices in manufacturing and quality control, and higher levels of management experience," said Luo Jiali, general manager of Boehringer Ingelheim Bioharmaceuticals China.
The German-based parent company was selected as one of the first foreign companies to be included in China's biopharma “contract manufacturing organization” pilot project. The trial allows domestic and overseas drug companies to outsource manufacturing and early-phase research and development work to eligible third parties.
Luo said there was no such thing as outsourcing in the manufacture of medicines when the company first decided to set up a production site and lab in Shanghai six years ago.
The new model means that local pharma firms no longer have to set up their own manufacturing facilities, a cost burden that many can’t bear.
Boehringer Ingelheim was one of the earliest pharmaceutical companies to offer outsourcing services for both local and foreign drug firms. The company said it is adopting advance technologies as a forerunner to the new business model.
For example, single-use technology and continuous manufacturing facilities were first adopted in its Shanghai site ahead of three other sites in the US and Europe.
Earlier this year, the National Medical Products Administration of China, formerly the China Food and Drug Administration, accepted an application from Chinese pharma firm Beigene for a new lymphoma drug. Clinical, manufacturing and quality control corroborating information was provided by Boehringer Ingelheim’s lab in Shanghai.
Beigene's new drug is expected to become the first approved by Chinese authorities under the Market Authorization Holder trial program.
That program aims to accelerate commercial production of new medications, especially those developed by start-up firms.
Last year, China also became a member of the International Conference on Harmonization of Technical Requirements for Registration of Pharmaceuticals for Human Use. The body aims to raise standards across all aspects of pharmaceutical regulation.
"In the past two years, China’s Center for Drug Evaluation has cleared a drug evaluation backlog and pushed implementation of drug-evaluation reforms," healthcare analyst Zhao Bing at UBS Securities said in a research note.  
Some 9,680 drug filings were processed in 2017, reducing the backlog to 4,000 from as many as 22,000 two years ago.
Multinational drug companies typically started business in China by importing medicines already approved and on the market in overseas countries.
China is also implementing a fast-track new drug approval process to get drugs in high demand for the treatment of cancer, cardiovascular diseases and respiratory ailments to the market as soon as it is safely possible. 
As one of the fastest growing foreign pharma businesses in China, UK-based pharma giant Astra Zeneca is forging ties with local partners to provide innovative business models.
AstraZeneca's latest effort has been in disease management solutions covering every aspect of a patient, including disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation.
The company is leveraging Internet of Things technologies to offer solutions to its business partners.
French-based Sanofi is pledging 60 million yuan (US$8.6 million) in financial aid for startups in the next five years as part of China’s "Internet plus healthcare" initiative.
The company is inviting startups to collaborate in areas of patient management, medication adherence and digital-assistant robots. 
Similar efforts have also been initiated by German multinational Bayer to combine the strength of the latest mobile technologies with its healthcare businesses.
The company has initiated incubator programs in the past three years to evaluate pharma startups to support Chinese innovation in digital health and nutrition fields.
Source: Shanghai Daily, December 19, 2018

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