FTZs to boost trade on back of new poli­cies

Move aims to sup­port in­no­va­tion in line with lo­cal in­dus­trial strengths

Global Times - Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - By Chen Qingqing

The State Coun­cil, China’s cab­i­net, un­veiled new mea­sures on Fri­day to deepen re­form and in­no­va­tion in pi­lot free trade zones (FTZs) in the coun­try, a move that aims to im­prove the busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment and fa­cil­i­tate trade.

The new poli­cies will lower the thresh­old for for­eign in­vestors in FTZs in sec­tors that in­clude con­struc­tion, health­care and fi­nan­cial ser­vices, ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ment pub­lished on the gov­ern­ment’s web­site.

They con­sti­tute 39 gen­eral poli­cies for all 12 zones and 14 spe­cific mea­sures for cer­tain zones, such as those in East China’s Zhe­jiang and Fu­jian prov­inces, which are in line with re­gional in­dus­trial fea­tures.

China has set up 12 FTZs over the past five years, which of­fer the coun­try ad­vances in in­sti­tu­tional ex­plo­rations, the Xin­hua News Agency said Mon­day.

“Over the past five years, the FTZs have been en­cour­aged to launch com­par­a­tive and com­ple­men­tary tests, car­ry­ing out ex­per­i­ments in line with lo­cal in­dus­trial fea­tures,” Li Shan­min, dean of the Guang­dong-based Sun Yat-sen Univer­sity In­sti­tute for Free Trade Zone Re­search, told the Global Times.

The FTZ in South China’s Guang­dong Prov­ince has ex­panded the scope of law firms jointly es­tab­lished by com­pa­nies among the Chi­nese main­land, Hong Kong and Ma­cao, Li noted.

The Nan­sha area in the Guang­dong FTZ has in­tro­duced Hong Kong stan­dards un­der main­land law in sec­tors such as de­sign, fi­nance, lo­gis­tics and sci­en­tific re­search and de­vel­op­ment, the lo­cal gov­ern­ment said in a state­ment sent to the Global Times.

Close to Hong Kong, the area also is­sued yuan-de­nom­i­nated panda bonds worth 2 bil­lion yuan ($287.9 mil­lion) for a Hong Kong firm in 2016 by us­ing fa­vor­able cross-bor­der fi­nance poli­cies in the FTZ, which also ac­cel­er­ated the in­ter­na­tion­al­iza­tion of the Chi­nese yuan, the state­ment said.

For the 53 new mea­sures, au­thor­i­ties have vowed to fur­ther sup­port the growth of lo­cal in­dus­tries such as lo­gis­tics and trans­port, while con­tin­u­ing to fa­cil­i­tate clear­ance pro­ce­dures at cus­toms. To pro­mote cross-Straits ex­changes, au­thor­i­ties in Ping­tan in East China’s Fu­jian, will be avail­able to reg­is­ter and man­age im­ports of med­i­cal equip­ment from the is­land.

“The new mea­sures del­e­gate some ad­min­is­tra­tive power, such as ap­proval of con­struc­tion-re­lated work and med­i­cal in­sti­tu­tion ap­proval to lo­cal gov­ern- ments, which should boldly un­der­take new re­forms in im­prov­ing the busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment,” Li said.

The new poli­cies en­cour­age more in­no­va­tion and re­forms in ex­ist­ing FTZs while seek­ing to ex­pand their scope.

To boost the auto in­dus­try, the cen­tral gov­ern­ment has ad­justed the par­al­lel im­port ve­hi­cle scheme by scrap­ping the lim­its to the ex­ist­ing three-month bonded stor­age pe­riod, which will help im­porters ad­just sales plan­ning and lower costs, Chen Zhen­chong from the Gen­eral Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Cus­toms said Fri­day at a press con­fer­ence.

And in fi­nance ser­vices, the Peo­ple’s Bank of China, the coun­try’s cen­tral bank, will en­cour­age FTZs to be the first to carry out fa­vor­able open­ing-up poli­cies in fi­nance and shorten neg­a­tive lists, Xu Zhong, re­search head of the cen­tral bank, said at the con­fer­ence.

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