An initiative to assist businesspeople navigating life in Yiwu.
The city of Yiwu is a commercial hub that receives 500,000 foreign businesspeople annually with 13,000 residing in the city fulltime. In 2016, the city administration developed and implemented a “one-stop shop” model for business people to access government services.
The key initiatives are as follows:
- Establish an International Trade Service Centre to "improve the development environment of international trade by optimizing its management and service mechanism."
- Develop a “One Stop Government Service” for all business people and enterprises to resolve any problems they are experiencing.
- Establish a Mediation Committee.
- Establish the “International Family” to strengthen communication and friendship between Chinese and foreign business people and local citizens.
- Pilot an international integration community building programme.
- Issue a foreign merchant card to help business people access rights and services that are available to the local Chinese population.
Engagement with foreign business people has extended from a purely commercial aspect to include social and cultural realms. More and more foreign business people are engaging in public welfare and voluntary activities.
The city of Yiwu is internationally known for its commodity trade market . The Yiwu International Trade market (https://www.linkyiwu.com) is divided into 5 districts covering and area of 4 million square meters for 75,000 booths where 100,00 suppliers exhibit over 400,000 types of products. The market is open every day from 9am-5pm (except national holidays) and sees thousands of customers, both local and international, each day.
These practices aim to achieve the following goals:
- The integrated services adopted by the International Trade Service Center are designed to promote the coordination and communication between all departments and break the information “silos” between them. This integrated approach to policy, service delivery and access to information is a major breakthrough in local governance in China and will not only result in improved services and reduced transaction costs for foreign business people but will also help to establish a smart and more cohesive public administration.
- By including foreign business people in the resolution of trade disputes, the City of Yiwu aims at breaking language and cultural barriers, making foreign-related legal matters more targeted and effective, and improving the trust of all parties in dispute mediation and resolution. By improving information exchange and cooperation with other departments, a sound dispute-resolution channel for both Chinese and foreign business people is achievable. The service provides a convenient space and environment in which to solve disputes and continue business cooperation while improving the perception of trust, impartiality and credibility. The service has vastly strengthened international understanding and trust and improved the business environment.
The implementation of the following practices entails the close collaboration of various institutions and agencies:
- The International Trade Service Center: the City established an International Trade Service Centre in January 2012, with 13 departments, including 52 counters, that handle 125 types of foreign-related examination and approval matters. The Center has become an all-round and one-stop comprehensive service platform that integrates foreign-related administrative approval, public services, intermediary services, international exchange and information exchange.
- The People's Mediation Committee for Foreign-related Disputes is composed of 13 mediators doing business in Yiwu and 28 Chinese mediators representing market operators and judicial administrative staff. The Committe plays a major role in foreign-related disputes mediation.
- The international integration community building project is administered by the Yiwu Civil Affairs Bureau.
- The Yiwu International Family is administered by Yiwu Bureau of Commerce and the Foreign Service Center.
- The Foreign Merchant Card is distributed by Yiwu Public Security Bureau and Yiwu Citizens Card Service Company.
The resources used for the initiative include:
- Financial resources: Expenses incurred in the operation of the International Trade Service Center, the Foreign Related Disputes Mediation Committee, the International Integration Community Building project and the Foreign Merchant Card are financed by the Yiwu Municipal Government.
The operating funds of the International Family are financed by foreign business people themselves.
- Human resources: The International Trade Service Center has 147 staff members from 12 government departments, who support examination and approval and foreign-related public services.
The People’s Mediation Committee for Foreign-related Disputes is comprised of foreign business people, market operators, co-operative institutions and legal associations.
The International Family is made up of Chinese and foreign business people from different countries and regions with professional experience in exchanges between China and other countries.
Research conducted by the City has shown that while other cities have established one-stop shop service models, no other city has adopted such a comprehensive approach.
The key results and impacts of the initiative can be summarized as follows.
- The International Trade Service Center integrates services from all departments, and provides a “one-stop” service and professional resources for foreign business people via one platform.
- Innovate and promote “One Stop Government Service” for foreign-related business affairs. By reducing unnecessary printed materials, breaking the data barriers between various departments, and making full use of internet technologies, foreign business people and enterprises can access information easily.
- The People’s Mediation Committee for Foreign-related Disputes helps resolve foreign-related disputes in trade and commerce and to create a more trustworthy business environment. As of July, 2018, the committee has mediated 489 foreign-related disputes involving 26 countries including the United States, Russia, Australia, Pakistan, Iraq and India, with a total amount of 61.0856 million yuan, and with a successful mediation rate of 96%. It has recovered 31.1498 million yuan of economic losses for Chinese and foreign businessmen.
- The International Integrated Community Building project improves quality of life and provides social and cultural information to foreign business people and residents living in the community. The project provides language training, life services, cross-cultural exchanges and business exchanges for foreign businesspeople and residents living in and around the community, to serve local economic development with innovative community governance.
- The International Family program fosters friendship, promotes exchange and collaboration, and creates a favourable environment for the prosperity of international trade by providing a platform for business people from all over the world to engage, cooperate, help and support each other. Regularly carry out such activities as foreign policies publicity and training, economic and trade exchanges, charitable public welfare, cultural exchanges, international sports and foreign centralized publicity.
- The Foreign Merchant Card helps foreign business people and citizens access services local Chinese have.
- There have been problems in optimizing services for foreign business people, however the city has taken the following measures in consideration of local conditions. In the process of promoting the “One Stop Government Service” and improving the service platform, the local government has had difficulties in coordinating with those vertically managed departments in charge of a large number of foreign related examination and approval matters.
- The management of the mediation team is another major problem facing the mediation work in foreign disputes. Mediators for disputes come from different countries and work in different industries. Most of them work for free and part-time, with no fixed working hours. To address this, the Yiwu People’s Mediation Committee for Foreign-related Disputes has implemented a duty system and monthly work meeting system for mediators. In the monthly meeting, in addition to routine case analysis and work deployment, regular business training is provided to improve professional standards.
- The establishment of a volunteer service score system and the exchange of points for class hours has raised the participation of foreign students in Chinese language training and this has formed a two-way positive interaction to promote the sustainability of the project.
Guangzhou Award, Innovating Foreign Service Initiatives To Build A Harmonious And Integrated Yiwu: http://www.guangzhouaward.org/award_d.aspx?CateId=288&newsid=1422