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Ministry of Commerce

The Ministry of Commerce (Mofcom) was set up in 2003 following one of the central government’s periodic restructurings, and is the successor to the former Ministry of Trade and Economic Cooperation (Moftec). Mofcom also absorbed some of the functions (i.e. those relating to trade) of the former State Economic and Trade Commission and the former State Development and Planning Commission. The rationale for the reform was to place both foreign and domestic trade under the administration of a single ministry.

Mofcom now has control over formulating China’s trade laws and policies, with responsibility for all aspects of domestic and international trade and issues related to foreign investment. In addition, it is responsible for promoting competitive free-market practices within the domestic economy. Mofcom counsellors can be found in all major Chinese diplomatic missions. In recent years, Mofcom has tried to remove the bias that exists in favour of foreign investors compared with investments proposed by domestic commercial institutions. Joint ventures agreements need to be submitted to Mofcom’s Foreign Investment Commission, which has three months to decide whether to approve or disapprove them. After approval, the joint venture should register with the General Administration for Industry and Commerce, and then obtain a licence to conduct business and start operations.

The ministry is currently headed by Chen Deming, a former governor of Shaanxi province and a past deputy at the National Development and Reform Commission. Chen, who was appointed in November 2007, replaced rising star Bo Xilai, who has been made party chief in Chongqing. Major Mofcom departments include the Policy Research Department, the Department of Planning and Finance, the Department of Treaties and Laws, the Department of Foreign Trade, the Department of WTO Affairs, the Department of Foreign Economic Cooperation, the Department of Foreign Investment Administration and the State Office of Intellectual Property Protection. Its major responsibilities include:

  • forming and implementing laws, regulations, policies and strategies concerning China’s domestic and foreign trade; tracking trade volumes and preparing projections and analysis of trade patterns;
  • negotiating bilateral and multilateral trade treaties and resolving trade disputes with foreign governments and multilateral bodies such as the WTO; ensuring that Chinese laws conform with these treaties;
  • developing strategies to promote domestic trade, including the restructuring of China’s commercial distribution sector; improving and modernising the nation’s distribution networks; implementing e-commerce infrastructure and promoting its use;
  • drawing up and enforcing foreign investment policies and reforms; creating strategies for utilising foreign investment; examining and approving applications by foreign companies to invest in restricted business areas or in projects beyond certain investment thresholds or in businesses subject to quota or licence requirements; verifying compliance of foreign investment projects with official regulations; and
  • forming and implementing economic and trade policies for the Hong Kong and Macau SARs.

Ministry of Commerce
2 Dong Changan Jie
Beijing 100731
Tel: +86 (0)10 6512 1919
Fax: +86 (0)10 6559 9340
Website (English version): http://english.mofcom.gov.cn/

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