A Ministry of Commerce circular indicates that the power to approve foreign invested real estate projects has been delegated to the provincial level. The new approach is intended to raise the efficiency of the application process.
Since 2006, circulars have been issued by several government authorities, especially the Ministry of Commerce, that are directed at strengthening the supervision of foreign investment in real estate. One aspect of this supervision has been the requirement that all new foreign invested real estate enterprises ("FIREs") be reviewed and filed with the Ministry of Commerce at the national level. This approach made it difficult for foreign investors to get approval for establishing FIREs and presented the national level office of the Ministry of Commerce with an increasingly unwieldy workload.
In response, on 13 June 2008, the Ministry promulgated the Circular of the Ministry of Commerce on Accomplishing the Recording of Investment in Real Property by Foreign Investors, which took effect on 1 July 2008. According to this circular, even though a filing is still required with the national level Ministry of Commerce, substantive responsibility for reviewing and approving the application has been put into the hands of provincial-level authorities at the Ministry of Commerce (and other government agencies). Ministry officials in Beijing will only examine FIREs at random. It is hoped that this change will shorten the approval process.
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