Easing measures boost free trade zone

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Shanghai Daily, October 20, 2013
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New measures to ease corporate registration and customs clearing procedures in the Shanghai free trade zone have prove a huge boon for businesses.

“In the first three working days after the national holidays, more than 1,900 companies submitted registrations in the zone — nearly triple the number for the whole of last year,” Dai Haibo, deputy director of the zone administration, told China Central Television yesterday.

“And in the first week, 10,000 people came seeking advice about opening a business in the zone,” Dai added.

A simplified registration and processing system on trial in the newly opened free trade zone has helped corporations get business licenses within four working days — down from 29 days.

On Monday, a batch of companies received their business licenses after submitting materials online on October 8.

In another initiative, a fast-track customs declaration procedure cuts business storage costs by 10 percent and allows companies to complete customs clearing in an hour, compared to two days previously.

“These measures have brought good savings as it costs about 4,000 yuan (US$656) to store 500 tons of goods in the zone for two days,” Zhang Yaoting, a deputy general manager of a logistics company, told CCTV. “Now because of the fast-track service we don’t have to pay that.”

Yao Jian, spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, said the essence of the free trade zone is policy innovation.

“Through such innovation, we hope to expand room for economic growth and offer new drive for reforms,” Yao said.

But some experts expressed concerns about some companies flocking to the zone and called for deeper reforms, including cutting government interference.

“As far as I know, many of the companies rushing to register in the zone do not know what real benefits can be obtained,” Wang Xinkui, director of Shanghai’s Counselor’s Office who helped draft policies for the zone, told a forum in East China Normal University yesterday.

“Those excited about the fact that they can register a company with 1 yuan may have never thought about the registered capital needed to run a business.”

Wang said it is essential to start a business credit system in the zone, as business ethics are essential for easing regulatory frameworks and trading with foreign partners.

Zhou Zhenhua, director of the Development Research Center affiliated to the Shanghai government, said the main purpose of the zone is not to make preferential policies to attract businesses in the short term.

Instead, it is an open market that will bring economic reforms that reduce the power of the government and enhance that of the market, said Zhou.

Shanghai’s pilot free trade zone opened on September 29.

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