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Tianjin FTZ draws investors

Zhang Min and liu Jing
Updated: Jun 25,2016 2:00 PM     China Daily

Photo taken on Nov 11, 2014 shows the Binhai New Area in north China’s Tianjin municipality. Dongjiang in the eastern part of the Binhai New Area is an important part of the Tianjin Pilot Free Trade Zone. [Photo/Xinhua]

The Tianjin Pilot Free Trade Zone has become a new magnet for investors, thanks to its innovative measures to facilitate investment, according to a local official.

Jiang Guangjian, deputy chief of the zone’s administrative committee, said the free trade zone implemented 123 new measures by the end of 2015.

The Tianjin Pilot Free Trade Zone was officially launched on April 21, 2015, aiming to pilot reforms to be adopted nationwide, especially in Beijing and Heibei province.

The measures, ranging from investment and trade facilitation to opening-up of the financial industry, offer businesses a beneficial environment for growth and result in attracting many investors.

For instance, Yingli Green Energy Holding, which is widely known as Yingli Solar, integrated its logistics companies in Hebei province, Beijing and Tianjin and relocated them to the Dongjiang Free Trade Port Zone of Tianjin.

In the eastern part of Tianjin’s Binhai New Area, Dongjiang is an important part of the Tianjin Pilot Free Trade Zone.

Li Guang, general manager of the newly established international logistics company for Yingli Solar, said: “The company not only provides basic services, such as logistics, customs declarations and commodity inspections, but also has cross-border e-commerce and online shopping businesses.

“In the past, we were doing business with companies in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region mostly,” Li said. “Since the establishment of the free trade zone, we have more cooperation opportunities nationwide and worldwide.”

In 2015, the logistics company’s revenue reached 80 million yuan ($12 million), about 10 times the value in 2013 when there were three separate companies. Revenue is expected to reach 120 million yuan by the end of 2016, according to Li.

Large enterprises from neighboring Beijing and Hebei were also attracted to the Tianjin Pilot Free Trade Zone to set up their headquarters.

At the beginning of 2016, Hebei Iron and Steel Group opened its financial leasing and commercial factoring operations in Dongjiang.

“In 2015, 2,344 large companies from Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei invested in the free trade zone, accounting for 62 percent of the total number of companies there,” said Zhang Yujun, an official with the Tianjin Pilot Free Trade Zone. “Their registered capital totaled 104.4 billion yuan, representing 50 percent of the zone’s total.”

In addition to major corporations, medium-sized, small and even micro businesses have been established in the free trade zone.

Bai Yanhui, 30, is the boss of one such startup company.

After studying dozens of cities in China, Bai and his team finally decided to settle in the Tianjin Pilot Free Trade Zone.

“As a startup company, we had made a lot of changes in our development strategy last year. With the new measures launched in the free trade zone, we can see the path of our company more clearly,” Bai said.

“My company is growing with the free trade zone,” Bai said. “We are doing an incubator program to help other startup companies.”

Bai’s company is currently registering a new company with Digital Sky Technology, a major investor in the internet market in Russia.

Bai said he is also running a family costume company in Heibei. “My plan is to move its major operations to the Tianjin Pilot Free Trade Zone and leave the manufacturing unit in Heibei,” he said.

“Right now, I am talking to all my friends in Beijing about the innovative measures in Tianjin Pilot Free Trade Zone and how to start businesses easier here.”

“I’m looking for partnerships in legal services, angel funds and listing advisory. I hope I can integrate all the resources in Tianjin and establish our headquarters here to serve the startup companies better,” said Bai.

“I won’t move my company to any other place in the future,” Bai said, adding that his company enjoys a good location and can easily access to the Tianjin Binhai International Airport and expressways and high-speed railways.

The Tianjin Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center in the Tianjin Airport Industrial Park is a major destination for such startups. By the end of January, more than 700 enterprises had settled there, with 40 percent of them from Beijing.

HY (Tianjin) Technology Co Ltd, located in the airport park, is started by graduates from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The research results in soil improvement technologies they made in Beijing were industrialized in Tianjin for curbing local salt marshes.

Peking University has set up a graduates’ entrepreneurship training camp in the center, the first of its kind outside Beijing. It provides not-for-profit entrepreneurship classes, innovation services and investment.

“Our camp has attracted many potential entrepreneurs,” said Yuan Hang, general manager of the training camp, adding that by the end of February, they had signed agreements on 63 projects with those who want to start businesses, including 19 projects by Peking University graduates.

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