Economic Watch: China steps up policy support for private sector

Xinhua net

BEIJING, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- China has reassured private businesses of continued, equal and favorable policies compared with their state-owned counterparts as the private sector has become a significant part of the economy and a major source of market vitality.

Premier Li Keqiang reiterated the stance Wednesday during the Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2018, also known as Summer Davos, in north China's city of Tianjin.

The country will implement and optimize policies that support the development of private and non-public economy and remove relevant constraints, Li said.

The Chinese government had constantly taken measures to reduce taxes and fees on small, medium-sized and micro enterprises, while reducing their financing costs and easing their financing difficulties, Li said. "Most of these enterprises are privately-owned and have generated the most jobs for the country."

The premier's remarks came as the Chinese economy has entered a new period requiring a higher level of innovation and entrepreneurship.

"China will increasingly rely on endogenous innovation to spur economic development in the future, a process that needs risk takers from private businesses, while state firms, always slower and more cautious in decision-making, are relatively less vigorous and not that willing to take risks," said Fan Gang, president of the China Development Institute, a Shenzhen-based think tank.

"In a new era of reform and opening up, China needs to ponder how to further propel the private sector in a bid to make the broader economy more vibrant."

The private sector has witnessed booming growth thanks to the country's reform and opening up during the past decades.

Private businesses have emerged as a vibrant force in national economic and social development, currently providing more than 60 percent of China's GDP, 60 percent of fixed-asset investment, 75 percent of technological innovation and 90 percent of new urban jobs.

By the end of 2017, there were 27 million private companies across the country.

However, given increasing downward pressure on the economy and a changing, complicated situation at home and abroad, some private businesses are grappling with lackluster growth and financing difficulties.

Analysts believe more efforts are required to protect and motivate private entrepreneurs and create a better business environment for them.

Central bank governor Yi Gang has directed financial institutions to equally treat state and private companies in terms of making loans and issuing bonds, and encouraged big lenders to set a good example and provide better services. In China, it is usually more difficult for private businesses, considered more vulnerable to economic volatility, to secure loans than state firms.

The People's Bank of China will guide lenders to continue financing cash-starved companies that have good prospects, stable market share and technological advantages, Yi said.

More favorable policies are in the pipeline as the government has promised to take more action, including introducing bigger tax reductions and implementing better intellectual property protection, to further encourage private companies, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises.