FTZs to boost trade on back of new policies
Move aims to support innovation in line with local industrial strengths
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.