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Brief introduction of the Foreign Investment Law

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Brief introduction of the Foreign Investment Law

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The Foreign Investment Law of the People's Republic of China (“the Foreign Investment Law”), as adopted at the 2nd Session of the Thirteenth National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China on March 15, 2019, will come into force on January 1, 2020.

As a result, the Law of the People's Republic of China on Chinese-foreign Equity Joint Ventures, the Law of the People's Republic of China on Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprises, and the Law of the People's Republic of China on Chinese-foreign Cooperative Joint Ventures (jointly called as “the Three Foreign Investment Laws”) shall be replaced accordingly. The Foreign Investment Law will become the basic law to stipulate the foreign investment relationships in China. 

 

Meaning of the law

 

Generally speaking, the generation of the Foreign Investment Law complies with the trend of our times.

The purposes of the Foreign Investment Law which are further expanding the country's opening up, vigorously boosting foreign investment and protecting the lawful rights and interests of foreign investors are also the essential function of the said law. Before the Foreign Investment Law, the Three Foreign Investment Laws undertake the same missions and duties.

However, with the new phase of our opening up, special functions are demanded to be acted by law. One of the main demands of the foreign investors who invest in China is their legal rights to be protected by the Chinese government. To offer an effective protection is also the way to attract more foreign investment to China which complies likewise with our basic national policy of our further expanding the country’s opening up. In this situation, the introduction of the Foreign Investment Law has its new mission and duty of the new era.

     In recent years, the external economic environment that China faces has changed a lot. China now is confronted with especially the trade disputes and conflicts with the western countries. In this circumstances, how to express more precisely our attitude of opening up, how to promote the foreign investment in China and how to dispel the foreign investors’ misgivings and worries become our first considerations. The Chinese government has much publicity about the external economic policies. However, the investors demand a protection on a legal level which gives a prominent and realistic meaning to the generation of the Foreign Investment Law.

 

General introduction

 

The Foreign Investment Law has 6 Chapters, including General Provisions, Investment Promotion, Investment Protection, Investment Administration, Legal Liability, Supplemental Provisions and General Provisions, and 42 Articles.

    Along with all the aspects, the administrative system of pre-establishment national treatment plus negative list to foreign investment, the assurance of foreign investment’s fair competition in China, and intellectual property rights protection are the three main sections that gain the most attention.

1

The administrative system of pre-establishment national treatment plus negative list to foreign investment

According to Article 4 of the Foreign Investment Law,

“The state applies the administrative system of pre-establishment national treatment plus negative list to foreign investment. ‘Pre-establishment national treatment’ as mentioned in the preceding paragraph means the treatment accorded to foreign investors and their investments no less favorable to that accorded to domestic investors and their investments at the stage of investment access; and ‘negative list’ as mentioned in the preceding paragraph means a special administrative measure for access of foreign investment in specific fields as imposed by the state. The state accords national treatment to foreign investment outside of the negative list.”

And Article 28 stipulates that

“A foreign investor may not invest in a field which is prohibited by the foreign investment access negative list from investment. To invest in a field restricted by the foreign investment access negative list from investment, a foreign investor shall meet the investment conditions set out in the negative list. For fields outside of the foreign investment access negative list, investment administration shall be conducted under the principle of equal treatment to domestic and foreign investment.”

To complete the administrative system of pre-establishment national treatment plus negative list, the Foreign Investment Law also establishes a foreign investment information reporting system and a foreign investment security review system.

According to Article 34,

“The state establishes a foreign investment information reporting system. A foreign investor or foreign-funded enterprise shall submit investment information to the commerce department through the enterprise registration system and the enterprise credit information publicity system.”

And Article 35,

“The state establishes a foreign investment security review system to conduct a security review of foreign investment that impacts or may impact the national security.”

Thus, the system of case to case examination and approval under the Three Foreign Investment Laws shall be ceased to apply with the Foreign Investment Law coming into force.

2
The assurance of foreign investment’s fair competition in China

As to the assurance of foreign investment’s fair competition in China, besides the Article 3 as a general provision which stipulates that:

“The state implements high-level investment liberalization and facilitation policies, establishes and improves the foreign investment promotion mechanisms, and builds a stable, transparent, and foreseeable investment environment with a level playing field.”,

there are also other aspects worth mentioning. Such as Article 9

“The state’s various policies to support the development of enterprises shall equally apply to foreign-funded enterprises according to the law.”;

Article 15

“The state guarantees that foreign-funded enterprises equally participate in standard development work according to the law, and reinforces information disclosure and public scrutiny in the development of standards. The compulsory standards developed by the state shall equally apply to foreign-funded enterprises.”;

Article 16

“The state guarantees that foreign-funded enterprises participate in government procurement activities through fair competition according to the law. Products manufactured and services provided by foreign-funded enterprises within China shall be equally treated in government procurement according to the law.”;

and Article 24

“In developing regulatory documents involving foreign investment, the people's governments at all levels and their relevant departments shall comply with laws and regulations; and in the absence of any basis in laws and administrative regulations, such documents shall not derogate from the lawful rights and interests or increase the obligations of foreign-funded enterprises, shall not set any market access and withdrawal conditions, and shall not intervene the normal production and distribution activities of foreign-funded enterprises.”

From these articles, we can see the determination of the Chinese government to show its good faith in offering a fair competition environment in China for the foreign investors. 

3
Intellectual property rights protection

To protect intellectual property rights, the Foreign Investment Law contains two aspects, namely Article 22

“The state protects the intellectual property rights of foreign investors and foreign-funded enterprises, and protects the lawful rights and interests of owners of intellectual property rights and relevant right holders; and for infringements of intellectual property rights, strictly holds the infringers legally liable according to the law. The state encourages technology cooperation on the basis of free will and business rules in the process of foreign investment. Technology cooperation conditions shall be determined under the principle of fairness by all investing parties through equal consultation. No administrative agency or its employee may force the transfer of any technology by administrative means.”

and Article 23

“Administrative agencies and their employees shall keep confidential, according to the law, the trade secrets of foreign investors and foreign-funded enterprises to which they have access in performing their duties, and neither divulge nor illegally provide others with such secrets.”

The Foreign Investment Law has not only stipulated the general protection of the intellectual property rights, but also intensified the legal responsibility system, especially the responsibilities of the administrative agencies, which is a brave measure to regulate from inside the government. 

 

 

Conclusion

To conclude, the fact that the Foreign Investment Law offers more protections and conveniences to the business environment, capital market, intellectual property rights protections etc. for the foreign investors will increase enormously the foreign investor’s confidence to our market and will promote the healthy and ordered development of the Chinese market economy.

The enforcement of the Foreign Investment Law will attract more foreign investors to China, and domestic enterprises and foreign-invested enterprises will have mutual promotion and progress under fair competitions. 

外商投資法簡介

 

2019年3月15日,十三屆全國人大二次會議表決通過了《中華人民共和國外商投資法》(以下簡稱“外商投資法”)。該法律將自2020年1月1日起施行。

《中外合資經營企業法》、《中外合作經營企業法》和《外資企業法》(統稱“三資企業法”)將被外商投資法所替代。外商投資法將成為調整中國境內外商投資關系的基本法。

 

一、外商投資法的意義

總體而言,外商投資法應時代潮流而生。外商投資法的立法目的與主要作用是進一步加強國家對外開放力度,大力促進外商投資,保護外國投資者的合法權益。在外商投資法之前,“三資企業法”履行了相同的使命和義務。

然而,隨著改革開放進入新的階段,我們對法律發揮的作用產生了更為特殊的需求。在中國,外國投資者的主要需求之一就是中國政府保護其在中國的合法權利。而提供有效保護措施,能吸引更多外商到中國投資,這符合我們進一步擴大對外開放的基本國策。在這樣的背景情況下,外商投資法的出臺有其新時代的使命和責任。

近年來,中國所面對的外部經濟環境發生了很大的變化。中國現在首要面對的是與西方國家日益明顯的貿易爭端與沖突。在這種情況下,如何更準確地表達我們的對外開放態度,如何促進外商在華投資以及如何消除外國投資者的疑慮和擔憂成為我們首要的考慮因素。盡管中國政府對對外經濟政策有很多的宣傳,但是投資者們更多追求的是法律層面上的保護,因此外商投資法的產生具有突出的現實意義。

      

 二、外商投資法概述

外商投資法共分6章,包括總則、投資促進、投資保護、投資管理、法律責任、附則,共42條。

其中,外商投資準入前國民待遇加負面清單管理制度、外商投資在中國的公平競爭保障和知識產權保護是外商投資法中最受關注的三個部分。

1.  外商投資準入前國民待遇加負面清單管理制度

根據外商投資法第4條:“前款所稱準入前國民待遇,是指在投資準入階段給予外國投資者及其投資不低于本國投資者及其投資的待遇;所稱負面清單,是指國家規定在特定領域對外商投資實施的準入特別管理措施。國家對負面清單之外的外商投資,給予國民待遇。”

根據外商投資法第28條規定:“外商投資準入負面清單規定禁止投資的領域,外國投資者不得投資。外商投資準入負面清單規定限制投資的領域,外國投資者進行投資應當符合負面清單規定的條件。外商投資準入負面清單以外的領域,按照內外資一致的原則實施管理。”

為了完善外商投資準入前國民待遇加負面清單管理制度,外商投資法還建立了外商投資信息報告制度及外商投資安全審查制度。外商投資法第34條規定:“國家建立外商投資信息報告制度。外國投資者或者外商投資企業應當通過企業登記系統以及企業信用信息公示系統向商務主管部門報送投資信息。”第35條規定:“國家建立外商投資安全審查制度,對影響或者可能影響國家安全的外商投資進行安全審查。”

這就意味著,“三資企業法”的個案審批制度,在外商投資法生效后將不再適用。

2.  外商投資在中國的公平競爭保障

為了保障外商投資在中國的公平競爭,除了外商投資法第3條“國家堅持對外開放的基本國策,鼓勵外國投資者依法在中國境內投資。國家實行高水平投資自由化便利化政策,建立和完善外商投資促進機制,營造穩定、透明、可預期和公平競爭的市場環境。”這一一般規定外,還有其他幾個方面值得注意。外商投資法第9條規定:“外商投資企業依法平等適用國家支持企業發展的各項政策。”第15條規定:“國家保障外商投資企業依法平等參與標準制定工作,強化標準制定的信息公開和社會監督。國家制定的強制性標準平等適用于外商投資企業。”第16條規定:“國家保障外商投資企業依法通過公平競爭參與政府采購活動。政府采購依法對外商投資企業在中國境內生產的產品、提供的服務平等對待。”第24條規定:“各級人民政府及其有關部門制定涉及外商投資的規范性文件,應當符合法律法規的規定;沒有法律、行政法規依據的,不得減損外商投資企業的合法權益或者增加其義務,不得設置市場準入和退出條件,不得干預外商投資企業的正常生產經營活動。”

從上述條文中我們可以看到中國政府決心為外國投資者在中國營造公平競爭環境的誠意。

 3. 知識產權保護

為了保護知識產權,外商投資法主要囊括如下兩個方面:首先,外商投資法第22條規定:“國家保護外國投資者和外商投資企業的知識產權,保護知識產權權利人和相關權利人的合法權益;對知識產權侵權行為,嚴格依法追究法律責任。國家鼓勵在外商投資過程中基于自愿原則和商業規則開展技術合作。技術合作的條件由投資各方遵循公平原則平等協商確定。行政機關及其工作人員不得利用行政手段強制轉讓技術。”其次,第23條規定:“行政機關及其工作人員對于履行職責過程中知悉的外國投資者、外商投資企業的商業秘密,應當依法予以保密,不得泄露或者非法向他人提供。”

外商投資法不僅規定了對知識產權的一般保護,而且還強化了法律責任制,特別是行政機關的責任,這是一項從政府內部進行規制的嚴格措施。

 

三、結論

綜上所述,外商投資法將為外國投資者提供更多的商業環境,資本市場,知識產權保護等方面的保障和便利,這將極大地增加外國投資者對我們市場的信心,促進中國市場經濟健康有序的發展。

外商投資法的實施將吸引更多的外國投資者到中國,國內企業和外商投資企業將在公平競爭中相互促進、共同發展。

 

 
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