The report of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China clearly proposed to “build a unified national market, deepen the reform of factor market, and build a high-standard market system”. In March 2022, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council further pointed out the need to break down market barriers, break through barriers that restrict economic circulation, and build a high-level unified national market. These are not only an essential part of building a unified national market, but also the key to continuously improving resource allocation efficiency and promoting TFP growth. The negative list system for market access, as an important prerequisite for building a unified national market in the new development stage, is a major institutional innovation in China’s current stage of industry access deregulation and stimulating market vitality.
This paper takes the negative list system gradually launched in 2016 as an exogenous impact of quasi-natural experiment, selects Shanghai and Shenzhen A-share non-financial listed companies from 2011 to 2020 as the sample, and studies the impact of market access deregulation on enterprise TFP. The study finds that the implementation of the negative list system for market access will significantly improve enterprise TFP. This conclusion is still valid after multiple robustness tests such as variable replacement, measurement method change, parallel trend test, PSM, and placebo test. The negative list system is mainly based on the following three paths to promote enterprise TFP: First, the increase in market competition under the negative list system impacts the original business model of enterprises, driving incumbent enterprises to increase R&D investment to promote technological progress. Second, the increase in external competitive pressure and the improvement of the business environment help to alleviate internal management and organizational coordination problems, enhancing the technical efficiency of enterprises. Third, the negative list system helps to break market segmentation and barriers, promote the full flow of resource elements between departments, and optimize resource allocation. In view of the strengthening of market competition and the optimization of business environment under the negative list system, heterogeneity research shows that the negative list system plays a more significant role in improving the TFP of enterprises with a high degree of monopoly, more investment opportunities, high rent-seeking, and supply chain concentration. The conclusions expand the empirical research on the impact of market access deregulation on corporate behavior, providing theoretical support for further optimizing negative list management and building a unified national market.