Shoppers buy imported goods at a comprehensive bonded zone in Jinhua, Zhejiang province. (HU XIAOFEI/FOR CHINA DAILY)
The General Administration of Customs released a policy document aimed at enhancing the service capabilities of China's 161 comprehensive bonded zones on Wednesday in order to bolster the country's trade and facilitate the growth of foreign firms.
The GAC introduced 23 guidelines, including optimizing inspection and quarantine operation modes, supporting the category expansion of bonded maintenance services and the establishment of production-related service facilities, and seeking ways to build innovation and trade in services-themed comprehensive bonded zones, as well as adjusting management of key commodities.
Comprehensive bonded zones are special commercial zones that enjoy favorable taxation policies and are managed by Customs authorities.
Based on regional development characteristics, they are focusing on multiple fields and industrial clusters, including aviation manufacturing and maintenance, oil processing and production, aircraft and marine platform financing leasing, parallel auto imports, cross-border e-commerce, large-scale mechanical equipment manufacturing and bulk commodity bonded warehousing.
"The government will accelerate the establishment of a policy and business environment conducive to the growth of high-end manufacturing and production-oriented service industries, such as maintenance, research and development," said Chen Zhenchong, director-general of the GAC's department of free trade zones and special control areas.
During a news conference in Beijing, Chen said the GAC will reinforce links between industries both inside and outside of these zones, and further reduce systemic transactional costs for both domestic and foreign companies.
The reform measures in this regard mainly include promoting dynamic adjustments of the bonded maintenance product catalog to address issues and rectify delayed adjustment mechanisms, supporting the development of new formats for bonded training and allowing duty-free shop goods to be imported from overseas through the comprehensive bonded zones, said the GAC's policy document.
The government will also give a green light to the operation of bonded training businesses within China's comprehensive bonded zones, including activities such as flight simulation and major medical apparatus usage.
As an important platform for opening-up to the outside world, the total foreign trade value of China's 171 special economic zones — including 161 comprehensive bonded zones — reached 8.4 trillion yuan ($1.15 trillion) in 2022, up 7.4 percent year-on-year. This accounted for 19.9 percent of the total national foreign trade value last year, despite only occupying a small portion of the country's land mass, in 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities on the Chinese mainland, Customs data showed.
As more than 60 percent of businesses operating within China's comprehensive bonded zones are foreign companies, Chen said these new guidelines will also boost foreign investment in China, and expand market access for foreign investors in more areas.
"There are many comprehensive bonded zones across the country that are adjacent to air, maritime and railway ports. They have the aim of encouraging each comprehensive bonded zone to adapt to local conditions and actively explore models for coordination and pathways of development between comprehensive bonded zones and ports," Chen said, adding that the new policy measures, therefore, achieve synergistic development through "zone-port linkages".
TCL Optoelectronics Technology (Chengdu) Co Ltd, a subsidiary of home appliances giant TCL Technology Group Corp, located in the Comprehensive Bonded Zone of Chengdu International Railway Port in Chengdu, capital of Southwest China's Sichuan province, has been utilizing the zone's bonded functions to produce essential components, such as TV modules, as a form of processing trade. These components are then transported to TCL's assembly base in Poland via the China-Europe freight train service.
"The company has transferred 80 percent of its European orders to Chengdu, hoping to respond more quickly to the needs of European customers through the China-Europe freight train service," said Sun Xiuhong, head of TCL's Chengdu branch.
"More than 90 percent of the components required for TCL's six production lines at the assembly base in Poland are transported via China-Europe freight trains departing from Chengdu," Sun said.