While US-China trade tensions are front of mind for many executives in Beijing, attendees of the US-China Business Council’s (USCBC) Beijing China Operations Conference last week indicated that other operational issues continue in the background. Senior executives from a broad range of industries gathered June 21 in Beijing to discuss key operational issues: tax reform, SOE partnerships, China’s outbound development, and US-China relations.
China’s legislature began its annual meeting today with the delivery of the Premier’s Government Work Report, which set an economic growth target of “around 6.5 percent” for the year. The National People’s Congress (NPC) is slated to discuss a variety of policy changes over the course of the next two weeks. Premier Li rehashed a series of previously promised market entry liberalizations.
The recent flurry of M&A activity in China reflects the not-so-invisible hand of China’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), founded in 2003 to oversee the largest of the non-financial state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in China. While SASAC controlled more than RMB 40 trillion in assets ($6.44 trillion) as of June 2015, the number of central SOEs in its portfolio has shrunk, from 196 in 2003 to 110 as of early August 2015.
Reforming state-owned enterprises (SOEs), reducing administrative burdens on companies, and opening up the economy are just three of the State Council’s recently-highlighted eight priority reform areas in the Opinions on Economic Reform Priorities in 2015 (“the Opinions”).