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China approves plans for three new FTZs

China on March 25 approved plans to build three new free trade zones in the city of Tianjin, Fujian province, and Guangdong province. The Chinese government has also approved increased reforms of the existing Shanghai FTZ.

The three new free trade zones along China’s eastern coast will copy the model of the Shanghai FTZ.

The Shanghai zone was established in 2013 as a pilot program, to test out looser controls on currency conversions and foreign direct investment.

“Generally speaking, the Shanghai FTZ is a success. Our positive experience with the Shanghai FTZ will be continued with these new schemes. The new Free Trade Zones will pick up on some of the things that weren’t achieved in the Shanghai FTZ,” said Li Guanghui, deputy director of Chinese Academy of International Trade & Economy Cooperation under Ministry of Commerce.

The Tianjin FTZ will play a key part in a wider plan to economically integrate the region surrounding Beijing, including Tianjin and Hebei province.

“The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei integration is the key driving force behind the development of the Tianjin FTZ. With Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei fully integrated, the development of the FTZ can be expanded to larger areas,” said Sheng Bin, director of China APEC Academy, Nankai University.

The existing Shanghai FTZ will be radically expanded as well.

The zone will cover more districts in the city, growing from 28 square kilometers to over 120 square kilometers .

More industries will also be included.

“Expanding from the current 28 square kilometers will better test our regulatory innovations. It will be a stressful test. Once the FTZ is expanded to other districts in the Pudong New Area, we can test the effectiveness of our innovations in a wider area, and also find potential risks,” said Chen Yin, executive deputy director of Shanghai Pilot FTZ Administration.

The new FTZs and Shanghai FTZ will begin using a new negative list in 2015.

Unlike the previous list drafted by Shanghai municipal authorities, the new one will be drawn up by China’s National Development and Reform Commission.