Main­land to launch three new ‘free-trade zones’

The China Post - - WORLD BUSINESS -

Main­land China will launch three new “free- trade zones” on Tues­day, of­fi­cial me­dia said Mon­day, build­ing on a project that be­gan in Shang­hai to much fan­fare but has so far un­der­shot ex­pec­ta­tions.

The “free-trade zones” (FTZs) will be opened in the south­ern prov­ince of Guang­dong, the north­ern port of Tian­jin and the eastern prov­ince of Fu­jian, re­ported the web­site of the Peo­ple’s Daily, the rul­ing China Com­mu­nist Party’s mouth­piece.

Each will cover around 120 square kilo­me­ters ( 46 square miles), the State Coun­cil, main­land China’s cabi­net, said.

China’s first FTZ, set up in the com­mer­cial hub Shang­hai in Septem­ber 2013, will also be quadru­pled in size, it said, bring­ing it up to a sim­i­lar scale and likely to take in the fi­nan­cial cen­ter of Lu­ji­azui, along with a man­u­fac­tur­ing area and a high­tech base.

When the Shang­hai FTZ was launched it promised a range of fi­nan­cial re­forms, in­clud­ing full con­vert­ibil­ity of the yuan cur­rency and free in­ter­est rates, but they re­main un­ful­filled.

All four zones are sub­ject to the same “neg­a­tive list” that bans or re­stricts for­eign in­vest­ment in 122 busi­ness ar­eas, rang­ing from ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied seeds and rare earth min­ing to In­ter­net news ser­vices and tele­vi­sion broad­cast­ers, a sep­a­rate State Coun­cil state­ment showed.

As­sis­tant Com­merce Min­is­ter Wang Shouwen told re­porters the list rep­re­sented a re­duc­tion from the pre­vi­ous 139.

“Open­ness is im­proved greatly this time,” he said.

The Guang­dong FTZ aims to speed eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion with neigh­bor­ing Hong Kong, the for­mer Bri­tish colony that is now a spe­cial ad­min­is­tra­tive re­gion of China, one of the re­leases said.

It will al­low Hong Kong and Ma­cau com­pa­nies to is­sue yuan­de­nom­i­nated bonds in the main­land and ex­plore ways for firms in the zone to sell yuan-de­nom­i­nated shares in Hong Kong, it said.

The Fu­jian zone is fo­cused on Tai­wan, which the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China con­sid­ers part of its sovereign ter­ri­tory, and aims to be­come a “co­op­er­a­tion plat­form” for the “21st cen­tury mar­itime silk road” — an ini­tia­tive backed by Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping that seeks to se­cure trade routes, largely through eco­nomic diplo­macy, an­other state­ment said.

Com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als in the Fu­jian zone will be per­mit­ted to in­vest over­seas di­rectly “us­ing their own fi­nan­cial as­sets,” it added.

The Tian­jin FTZ is part of a push to bet­ter in­te­grate the city with nearby Bei­jing and He­bei prov­ince, ac­cord­ing to the State Coun­cil.

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