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Free trade port plans setting sail after two sessions

Editor: Zhang Jianfeng 丨China Daily

02-01-2018 09:16 BJT

Details on China's first batch of free trade ports is expected to be released after the two sessions set to be held in early March this year, China Securities Journal reported Wednesday.

Over 10 municipalities and provinces such as Shanghai municipality, Tianjin municipality, Zhejiang province and Guangdong province, proposed building free trade ports at local "two sessions" meetings.

In addition to coastal regions, many inland areas such as Henan province and Sichuan province also made the proposal to build free trade ports in their local government work reports.

The building of China's free trade port is at the exploration stage and should be developed step by step, from ports along the seaside and riverside to airports and dry ports in inland areas, said Bai Ming, deputy director of the International Market Research Institute of the Ministry of Commerce.

Free trade ports should be close to major transport hubs and economic hinterlands, gathering high-tech and high-level talent from all over the world, said Wei Jianguo, former vice-minister of commerce.

The free trade port needs to be supported by a strong government, a market-oriented and highly efficient operation institution and a completely internationalized service system. It should become an area with the best business environment in the world, Wei added.

Apart from applying to build free trade ports, these municipalities and provinces also clarified targets to deepen reform of their pilot free trade zones.

Analysts predict the reform in free trade zones will be strengthened, and some reform experiences from the pilot areas are expected to be further promoted all over China.

The Ministry of Commerce will continue to promote reform in free trade zones, reduce the negative list of foreign investment in the pilot free trade zones, increase the intensity of stress testing, improve the quality of free trade zone development and promote more specific and systematic reform experiences nationwide, said Gao Feng, spokesperson of the Ministry of Commerce.

As an important measure of institutional innovation, China will grant more powers to pilot free trade zones to conduct reform and explore the opening of free trade ports, according to Chinese President Xi Jinping's report at 19th CPC National Congress.

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