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China to build six new pilot free trade zones

(ecf.org.cn)        Updated: 2019-08-07

The names of six new pilot free trade zones which have recently completed the government approval process are expected to be released soon, China Securities Journal reported in July.

The total import and export volume of China's 12 free trade zones has topped 1.61 trillion yuan ($234.16 billion), up 4.3 percent year-on-year, accounting for 10.97 percent of the country's total foreign trade, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

The General Administration of Customs said it received registrations from a total of 85,045 enterprises, 5,010 of which were established in the first half of the year.

The launch of a new batch of pilot free trade zones is a clear and unmistakable reflection of China's determination to further open up, the report said.

Industry analysis shows the new pilot free trade zones may come from six out of eight provinces and autonomous regions: East China's Shandong, Jiangsu and Anhui provinces; North China's Hebei province; Northeast China's Heilongjiang province; Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region; South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region; and Central China's Hunan province.

The free trade zones will most likely be located along the Yangtze River Economic Belt, the Silk Road Economic Belt, 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and around the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, said Bai Ming, deputy director of the International Market Research Institute under the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

From January to June, the 12 free trade zones attracted 69.47 billion yuan in foreign investment, up 20.1 percent year-on-year. China is attracting more and more foreign investment in high-end manufacturing, information technology and internet largely due to the promotion and development of free trade zones and business environment.

The Fujian Pilot Free Trade Zone began operations in April 2015. As of this March, 78,591 newly registered enterprises brought a total registered capital of 1.78 trillion yuan to the zone. Fujian has introduced 339 measures to facilitate trade and investment in the Fujian FTZ, of which 19 have been promoted nationwide by the State Council and 136 are being promoted around Fujian province.

Accounting for 2 percent of Shanghai's total land area, the Shanghai FTZ produces nearly one-fourth of the city's GDP and one-fourth of its tax revenue. It is home to about 45 percent of regional headquarters and foreign investment R&D centers for Shanghai's multinational firms. In a period of five years, 59,000 firms have received investment in Shanghai FTZ, more than the total investment received in the 20 years leading up to the FTZ's formation. It also promoted over 120 measures nationwide to help develop investment, trade, finance and regulations.

From July 22-23, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited the new area of the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone and learned about its future plans.

On July 23, Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong demanded that greater efforts be made to reform and open up the Shanghai FTZ's new area. He said the new area should be built into a special economic zone with strong global market influence and competitiveness, helping China further integrate with the global economy.

Some analysts believe that Shanghai FTZ's new area will focus more on enhancing investment and advancing trade liberalization. It will facilitate investment and operations, loosen restrictions on the import and export of goods, ease fund flows, and open transportation and convenient access to information with offshore markets.

The new area will be granted greater administrative power to develop, reform and innovate, and will regularly share its experiences in order to spearhead a new round of reform and opening-up in the Yangtze River Delta.