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Premier tells free trade zones to be bolder over reforms

Updated: Apr 22,2015 12:30 PM

Premier Li Keqiang visits a service center in Xiamen, part of the Fujian Pilot Free Trade Zone (FTZ), on April 22. Premier Li’s visit came a day after the official launch of the three latest FTZs, of which Fujian is one. The first FTZ was launched in Shanghai in 2013 under a landmark reform initiative. The FTZ program was subsequently expanded this year to also include Tianjin and Guangdong. The Premier has visited all four FTZs.

Pilot Free Trade Zones (FTZs), now operating in four areas, must have the courage to roll out bolder reforms, Premier Li Keqiang said on April 22 as he visited Xiamen, part of the Fujian Pilot FTZ.

Premier Li’s visit, taking place a day after China opened three new FTZs modeled on Shanghai — a laboratory for ambitious free-market reforms.

“FTZs should not become places for favorable policies. Instead, they should be a powerhouse of reforms,” Premier Li said as he asked about the progress of reforms at a Fujian FTZ service center where businesses register and apply for investment projects.

Streamlined government procedures for business investment are needed to achieve greater opening-up, he said.

The Premier said the sharing of data among government agencies, including the industrial watchdog, quality inspector and tax-collecting authorities, should be accelerated.

“Such data-sharing requires the breaking down of barriers among different government agencies, which is the most difficult part of the reforms,” the Premier said. “But we must accomplish the task within the year.”

China launched the China (Shanghai) Pilot FTZ, the first pilot for what were described in 2013 as the country’s boldest reform initiatives. The program was expanded on April 21 as FTZs were opened in Guangdong and Tianjin as well as Fujian.