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New FTZs to follow Shanghai’s lead

2015-03-25 11:18 Shanghai Daily Web Editor: Gu Liping

China has approved plans for pilot free trade zones in Beijing's neighboring port city of Tianjin and the coastal Fujian and Guangdong provinces as well as a plan to deepen reform and opening up in the one in Shanghai.

The decision was made at a meeting of the Politburo chaired by President Xi Jinping yesterday, Xinhua news agency reported.

FTZs are important for exploring new paths and acquiring new experiences, said a statement released after the meeting.

It said that the Shanghai FTZ has made "positive progress" over more than a year, generating a model that can be replicated elsewhere.

The new zones, as well as the Shanghai FTZ, will continue working for institutional innovation, according to the statement.

The FTZs are part of a new, more open economic system, exploring new models for regional economic cooperation, and establishing a law-based climate for business and commerce, the statement said.

The new zones are expected to be launched this month along with the expansion of the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, which was set up in 2013 as a testing ground for some of China's more aggressive reforms.

Since its establishment, the Shanghai FTZ has introduced a raft of policies to reduce red tape, simplify Customs procedures, limit government interference, widen market access across service sectors and deregulate financial markets.

Approval has been given for the zone to be expanded to include the Lujiazui financial zone, Jinqiao development zone and Zhangjiang high-tech zone, increasing its area more than four-fold to 120.27 square kilometers.

The new zones in Tianjing, Fujian and Guangdong will inherit practices that have been proved successful in the city.

Industrial advantages

Xiamen, a city in southeast China's Fujian Province, said earlier this month that it will adopt 35 reform measures initiated by the Shanghai FTZ in its zone.

The Tianjing free trade zone, which will include areas around the city's port and airport and the Binhai New Area, is positioned to promote the integrated development of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei.

Huang Xingguo, Tianjin's mayor, said last month that its zone will place emphasis on promoting shipping, international trade, financial leasing, high-end manufacturing and services.

The Guangdong free trade zone will aim for better economic cooperation with Hong Kong and Macau. It encompasses the Nansha Development Zone in Guangzhou, the Qianhai New Area in Shenzhen that is adjacent to Hong Kong, and the Hengqin New Area of Zhuhai neighboring Macau.

With its proximity to Taiwan, the Fujian zone, which consists of areas in Pingtan County, Xiamen and Fuzhou, will play a role in boosting cross-strait ties.

Local governments in China are flocking to apply for free trade zones in the hope that reforms and opening up will catalyze new engines to drive economic growth.

It is reported that a number of provinces including Shanxi, Gansu and Hubei have submitted proposals for free trade zones to the central government.

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