China To Expand Trade Rights
Non-state firms will be able to import, export
BEIJING - 12/27/03 - Trade rights in China, once the preserve of powerful state monopolies, are to be extended to individuals under proposed legislation prompted by the country's entry into the World Trade Organization, reports the Dow Jones Newswire.
Previously, the agency said, "jealously guarded trading rights were issued to state firms that many felt stifled competition for imports, as well as reduced domestic companies' access to export markets."
However, trading rights have gradually been extended to a much wider range of companies as part of China's market reforms.
Under the draft amendment to the Foreign Trade law submitted to the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, all individuals, legal entities and organizations can take part in foreign trade, said the official Xinhua News Agency.
The decade-old Foreign Trade Law currently prohibits individuals from undertaking foreign trade.
In September, the Ministry of Commerce canceled a requirement that a domestic company be established for at least one year. However, local companies must meet a minimum registered capital requirement to qualify for trading rights.
The draft amendment brings the foreign trade law into line with a commitment to the WTO to allow foreign individuals in China to engage in cross-border trade.
"Since foreign individuals will be allowed to undertake foreign trade in China, Chinese individuals should be granted the same right," Ministry of Commerce Vice Minister Yu Guangzhou told the opening session of the standing committee of the National People's Congress.
The standing committee meets regularly each year to consider proposed legislation in between the annual 10-day sitting of the full National People's Congress.
The draft will be discussed at group meetings in the next few days and is expected to be passed next year, according to the Xinhua report.
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