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FTZ Network Leads New Phase of Reform

The establishment of four pilot free trade zones, which have paved way for China to further open up in an innovative way, is one of the significant achievements made during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15).

China set up its first FTZ in Shanghai in September 2013, and opened three new ones in the southeastern Guangdong and Fujian provinces and the northern Tianjin municipality in April this year, rolling out an emerging nationwide FTZ network in which each has a well-designed role to play.

The Shanghai FTZ is pioneering more convenient investment and trade in the country, while the Guangdong FTZ is designed to deepen cooperation, particularly in the service industry, with the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions. The Tianjin FTZ is looking to boost offshore finance and financial leasing business, as well as the China-Republic of Korea Free Trade Agreement, while the Fujian FTZ is focused on trade exchanges with Taiwan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The Shanghai FTZ has pioneered China's ongoing economic reforms and innovation, and developed a workable model based on reformed supervision and management and the aggregation of emerging industries in the past two years.

It has expedited the benign transformation of the customs supervision system, making its success "duplicable and promotable", and it is making progress to optimize the "single window system", based on the platform of an electronic port. This allows trade and transportation enterprises to efficiently submit their applications and receive results from the supervisory departments concerned. Such institutional innovation should be a boon to China's economic exchanges with other countries, because it will simplify the procedures of transnational trade, reduce the cost of doing business, and significantly improve the efficiency of customs supervision and country-to-country logistics.

To cut the investment red tape, the Shanghai FTZ has established a "negative list" for foreign investment and preferential trade and financial policies, and a registration system is applied to all foreign investments not on the list, offering them easier access to the country.

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