A recently approved free trade zone in Fujian province will focus on cross-Straits cooperation with Taiwan, according to provincial legislators.
An executive meeting of the State Council, China’s cabinet, decided in December to establish three new pilot free trade zones in the provinces of Guangdong and Fujian and the northern municipality of Tianjin, a major port, but did not specify when they would begin operations.
Su Shulin, a deputy to the National People’s Congress and governor of Fujian province, said the province’s close geographical and social links with Taiwan make the Fujian FTZ a unique project.
Fujian is the ancestral home of approximately 80 percent of the island’s population, and statistics show that from January to November last year, a record of 389 Taiwan-funded businesses settled in the province, a year-on-year growth of 75 percent.
“When developing the FTZ, the provincial government will highlight the demands of Taiwan-funded companies and make innovative policies accordingly,” Su said.
Covering an area of 118 square kilometers, the Fujian FTZ includes the cities of Xiamen and Fuzhou, and the county of Pingtan.
Yang Yimin, mayor of Fuzhou, said the Fuzhou section will facilitate cross-Straits cooperation in industries such as advanced manufacturing, modern agriculture and e-commerce. The section that includes the Fuzhou Economic and Technology Development Zone and the Fuzhou Bonded Port Area will provide faster inspection procedures for vehicles imported from Taiwan, and quarantine procedures will be accelerated for agricultural produce and livestock from the island.
A cross-Straits manufacturing and research base for electronic information products will be established in the section, and a cross-border e-commerce logistics park, covering an area of 200,000 square meters, will be established to explore new areas of cooperation to improve transport and logistics links between Fujian and Taiwan.
Liu Keqing, former mayor of Xiamen, said a number of projects aimed at boosting cross-Straits cooperation, including the development of a currency settlement mechanism for cross-border trade and a cross-Straits cold-chain logistics center, will be developed in the Xiamen section.
An online platform with comprehensive information about the various departments concerned with cross-border trade, such as the industrial and commercial bureau and the tax bureau, has been created to offer streamlined, smoother administrative procedures for registration of new companies, Liu said.
“Innovation plays an important role in developing an FTZ. The platform is a good example of innovative thinking, and it could eventually be promoted in the other two sections,” Liu said.
Zhou Qingsong, deputy director of the administrative committee of the Pingtan Comprehensive Pilot Zone, said the FTZ will offer a number of innovative incentives to investors from Taiwan, and the county may allow Taiwan-registered vehicles on its roads. If that happens, it will push for a reciprocal arrangement on the island, he said.
Pingtan will foster a number of new sectors in the zone, including cross-border e-commerce and financial leasing, he added.
The county has already released a negative list, which specifies bans or restrictions on foreign investment, he said, adding that Taiwan investors will be exempt from the zone’s restrictions on overseas investment in sectors such as banking, insurance and securities.