China is planning to boost development of the exhibition industry through market liberalization, according to a guideline released by the State Council on Sunday.
A ministerial joint conference, including a dozen central government departments, will be established to coordinate the formulation and implementation of new market rules, the guideline said, setting a deadline of 2020 for China to have an exhibition center "with a sound development environment and a high level of internationalization".
Licensing of economic and technological exhibitions will be gradually delegated to provincial-level commercial authorities, while the number of government-funded exhibitions will be reduced. In their place, private companies are encouraged to organize and sponsor such events, according to the plan.
It said China will guide big exhibition companies to acquire, merge with or buy stakes in foreign counterparts to establish multinationals.
Small exhibition firms will meanwhile enjoy tax breaks, and customs procedures will be streamlined to facilitate cross-border events.
The government plans to support exhibition-related sectors including transport, logistics, telecommunication, finance, tourism, catering and hotels.
China will "set up a cooperation mechanism" for domestic and foreign exhibition companies, and invite global giants to hold events in China, according to the plan.
It also said authorities will strengthen intellectual property rights protection, with rampant counterfeiting in China a big turn-off for international brands interesting in exhibiting here.
China is a latecomer to the exhibition business compared with developed countries, but it has become the world's second-largest exhibition holder in terms of the number of events and venues.
Despite the achievements, the guideline noted that China's exhibition market is far from mature, with weak global competitiveness and an absence of sound policies.