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China announces six new pilot free trade zones

Xinhua | Published: August 26, 2019 18:16:59


China on Monday announced a master plan for six new pilot free trade zones (FTZs) in a strategic move to press ahead with reform and opening up in the new era.

The new pilot FTZs will be located in the six provincial regions of Shandong, Jiangsu, Guangxi, Hebei, Yunnan and Heilongjiang, according to the plan released by the State Council.

Setting up new pilot FTZs is "a major decision by the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council and a strategic move to advance reform and opening up in the new era," the plan said.

This will bring the total number of the country's pilot FTZs to 18, which serve as pioneers of the country's reform and opening up as they test new styles of foreign investment management, trade facilitation and transformation of government functions to better integrate the economy with international practices.

The six new pilot FTZs will be tasked with differentiated reform try-outs, according to the plan.

For example, development of the marine economy is one of the focuses for the pilot FTZ in Shandong, a coastal province, while building a new type of industrial base is part of the plan for Hebei, which neighbors Beijing and Tianjin.

Supporting innovation and development of the manufacturing industry is one of the goals for the pilot FTZ in Jiangsu, a vibrant manufacturing hub in the east. Meanwhile, Guangxi in the southwest will step up cooperation with the ASEAN region in its pilot FTZ.

The new pilot FTZs will highlight institutional innovation, further opening-up, high-quality development as well as integration with major national strategies, said Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen.

Authorities should draw lessons from the pilot programs and accumulate experience for reform practices that could be replicated and promoted, according to the plan.

"The move aims to carry out and explore reform and innovation in more areas, strengthen internal drivers for high-quality development through deeper reform and show our resolve to support an open world economy via higher-level opening-up," Wang said.

After China started piloting FTZs in Shanghai in 2013, the country established 11 more in its coastal regions including Guangdong and Fujian and inland provinces such as Shaanxi and Sichuan. Earlier this month, the Shanghai pilot free trade zone was expanded, with the addition of a new section.

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