China expands Shanghai FTZ for further opening-up, globalization

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Aerial photo taken on June 27, 2019 shows the Lingang area in Shanghai, east China. [Photo/Xinhua]

China on Tuesday announced the expanding of its Shanghai free trade zone (FTZ) in its latest major strategic move for further opening-up.

The addition of the Lingang area is a major strategic decision made by the Communist Party of China Central Committee to further opening up, Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen told a press conference Tuesday.

It also demonstrates China's clear stand to adhere to all-round opening up in the new era and an important measure taken to actively lead the healthy development of economic globalization, Wang said.

The new Lingang section will match the standard of the most competitive free trade zones worldwide and implement opening-up policies and systems with strong global market competitiveness, according to an overall plan for the new Lingang area of the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone issued by the State Council, or the cabinet.

Lingang, with a start-up area of 119.5 square kilometers, will facilitate overseas investment and capital flows and realize the free flow of goods, according to the plan.

"The new area is not just a simple expansion of the existing free trade zone and a copy of existing policies. It is comprehensive, profound and fundamental institutional innovation and reform," Chen Yin, executive vice mayor of Shanghai, told the press briefing.

The Shanghai FTZ had an area of 28.78 square kilometers when it was established in September 2013 and expanded to 120.72 square kilometers in December 2014.

Over the past years, the Shanghai FTZ has made remarkable progress in its bold exploration in sectors like investment, trade and finance and contributed precious experience to the all-around deepening of reforms and high-level opening-up, said Wang.

Special zone

The area will be built into a special economic function zone with global influence and competitiveness, to better serve the country's overall opening-up strategy, the plan says.

"The status as a special economic function zone means that it is not adding more facilitation but moving toward real investment and trade liberalization," said Shen Yuliang, a researcher with the Institute of World Economics under the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

By 2025, the Lingang area will have a relatively mature institutional system of investment and trade liberalization and facilitation. By 2035, it will be built into a special economic function zone with strong global market influence and competitiveness, becoming an important platform for the country to integrate into economic globalization.

The area, administered like a special economic zone, will establish an institutional system with its focus on investment and trade liberalization and set up an open industrial system with global competitiveness, according to the plan.

It will strive to become a business cluster for international business, cross-border financial services, frontier technology research and development and cross-border services trade, and speed up the industrial upgrading of existing companies.

The Yangshan comprehensive bonded area will be set up there, and the area will also pilot free capital inflows and outflows and free capital conversion.

Income tax shall be levied at a reduced rate of 15 percent within five years from its establishment for qualified enterprises engaged in manufacturing and R&D in key fields including integrated circuits, artificial intelligence, biomedicine and civil aviation, says the plan.

Shanghai will also set up a fund of 100 billion yuan (14.2 billion U.S. dollars) in five years to support the development of the new area, said Chen.

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