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The National Development and Reform Commission

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC, also sometimes known as the State Development and Reform Commission) is an institution set up under the direct supervision of the State Council to promote China’s macroeconomic management. Previous iterations included the State Planning Commission and the State Development Planning Commission (SDPC), bodies that had managed China’s centrally-planned economy since 1952. The current NDRC was formed in 2003 following the merger of the SDPC with the State Council for Restructuring the Economic System and the State Economic and Trade Commission. The reform was implemented in order to emphasise research over resource allocation, to eradicate a tendency to micro-manage and to remove significant duplication and overlapping of planning responsibilities.

Following restructuring, the NDRC now has broader jurisdiction and a greater range of responsibilities. As the government’s main planning body, it has broad authority to formulate policies for long-term macroeconomic and social development and to promote ongoing efforts at economic restructuring. Among other things, the NDRC is charged with reforming the national banking system and reducing red tape so that the economy becomes more market-based. In addition, it has responsibility for:

  • drafting the nation’s annual and five-year plans and submitting them to the National People’s Congress on behalf of the State Council;
  • examining and approving major construction projects;
  • approving foreign investment in specified categories of industry; and
  • creating national policies for power production, energy resource allocation and the management of the nation’s strategic oil reserves.

Senior government officials will often ask the NDRC to formulate policy to deal with thorny issues that other ministries cannot efficiently execute, either because they are too complicated or because vested interests prevent them from reaching an objective opinion. Most recently, it has been tasked with formulating policy on environmental issues and on sustainable energy production linked to global warming.

Headed since 2003 by Minister and CPC Central Committee member Ma Kai, the NDRC employs about 900 bureaucrats in 26 departments. These include departments for Policy Studies, the National Economy, Economic System Reform, Fixed Asset Investment, Trade and the Energy Bureau. The NDRC also houses offices for State Council Leading Groups for Western Region Development, Revitalising Northeast China and National Energy. Structured vertically, it has representative offices at local and provincial level that examine and grant approval for state-funded and major construction projects.

The procedures for approval vary according to the nature and size of the investment. Approval of provincial authorities is generally sufficient for projects categories that are classified as ‘encouraged’ or ‘permitted’ if total investment is less than US$100m. For ‘restricted’ category projects, provincial approval is sufficient only if the total investment is less than US$50m. Projects over these amounts must be approved by the NDRC and the Ministry of Commerce. State Council approval is required for projects in ‘restricted’ sectors if total investment exceeds US$100m, and for projects in ‘encouraged’ or ‘permitted’ sectors if the total investment is greater than US$500m. The construction of deepwater berths (10,000-tonne class for coastal ports and 1,000-tonne class for inland ports) is in the encouraged class.

Following the promulgation of China’s 2004 Port Law that encourages domestic and foreign investors to construct and operate ports, the first wholly foreign-owned port project was contracted in 2005 between DP World and Qingdao government. It was approved in 2007.

National Development and Reform Commission
38 Yuetan Nanjie
Xicheng District
Beijing 100824
Tel: +86 (0)10 6850 2876
Fax: +86 (0)10 6850 1458
Website (English version): http://en.ndrc.gov.cn/

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