SCIO briefing on the progress of Hainan Free Trade Port policies

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I'd like to ask a question about cooperation between Hainan FTP and Russia. Recently, Hainan FTP issued policies on attracting foreign investment. What are the fields with the greatest potential for cooperation between Hainan FTP and Russia? What are the most important advantages of the bilateral cooperation? Thank you.

Feng Fei:

Thanks for your concern about the construction of Hainan FTP. In the past three years, the explosive growth in foreign investment has become a highlight in the construction of Hainan FTP. Hainan has become a "new favored place" for global investment. Specifically, I'd like to explain this through three areas in which we've witnessed exponential growth. First, Hainan's actual use of foreign capital has doubled annually for three years in a row, with the aggregate exceeding half of what the island province had accumulated over 30 years since it became a special economic zone in 1988. Second, the number of foreign investment entities has multiplied. The number of newly established foreign-invested companies in Hainan reached 1,005 last year, surpassing the 1,000 mark and nearing three times that of 2019. It was not easy to achieve such results since last year was severely impacted by the pandemic. Third, the number of sources of foreign investment grew exponentially. At present, more than 80 countries and regions including Russia have invested in Hainan.

Why has Hainan become a "new favored place" for global investment? I would use two points to sum up its favorable policies. First, Hainan has the lowest number of items on its foreign investment negative list. There are 33 items on the national list, 30 on the list of free trade zones, and 27 on the list of Hainan. Second, Hainan has the lowest tax and that might be what foreign-invested companies care most about. Take corporate income tax as an example. Companies in industries encouraged by Hainan enjoy a preferential corporate income tax rate of 15%. High-end talents pay income tax no higher than 15% of their gross income. Those two policies are exclusive to Hainan.

Regarding cooperation with Russia, we have considerations in two areas. First, we will deepen tourism cooperation. In 2019, 330,000 Russian travelers visited Hainan, which means among every four foreign visitors, one was from Russia. After the pandemic, we hope the flights between Russia and Hainan will soon be resumed, and more Russian friends will visit Hainan. Meanwhile, the fitness and elderly-care industry and shopping will bring new experiences for Russian travelers. Second, we will expand cooperation with Russia in the areas of culture, sport and technology, but especially culture. Russia is famous for its rich and colorful culture. Take art performances as an example. China's central government has approved foreign investment to establish commercial performance brokerage firms in Hainan. We hope to deepen bilateral cooperation in this field, and achieve mutual benefit and win-win results. Thank you.

China News Service:

To promote trade liberalization and facilitation is always the key point for the construction of Hainan FTP. What has the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) done in this area? What are the latest considerations and plans for the future? Thank you.

Wang Shouwen:

Thanks for your question. Trade liberalization and facilitation is a common feature of international advanced free trade ports, and also a key point for the construction of Hainan FTP. On June 1, 2020, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council released the Master Plan for the Construction of the Hainan Free Trade Port, which systematically designed the policies and regulations in the field of foreign trade, and clarified the goals expected to be achieved by 2025 and step-by-step arrangements. Since the construction of Hainan FTP began, the MOC has actively implemented the master plan and the relevant institutional arrangements of trade policies. We have already carried out the following measures.

First, we have studied and drafted the negative list of cross-border service trade for Hainan FTP. Currently, the drafting of the list has been completed and the corresponding procedures are under way.

Second, we drafted and reported to the State Council to release relevant replies on comprehensively deepening trials for the innovative development of service trade last August. A three-year trial will be launched in Hainan and other places to deeply explore new systems for the innovative development of service trade.

Third, the MOC and Hainan provincial government will co-hold the first China International Consumer Products Expo on May 7-10, which is now in intensive preparation.

Moreover, the MOC and other relevant departments are busy working to promote policy adjustment for duty-free shopping on offshore islands, the zero-tariff list for several imported goods, and the supervisory measures of duty-free shopping for goods with 30% added-value at Yangpu Bonded Port. Mr. Zou gave us a detailed introduction about this area just now. I'd like to emphasize that in order to implement the master plan, especially based on the new development stage and new development philosophy, and in line with the needs of the construction of Hainan FTP, the MOC and 19 other relevant departments have proposed a number of measures to advance trade liberalization and facilitation in Hainan FTP. The measures have been authorized by the State Council and formed into documents. Next, the MOC and 19 other relevant departments will release the documents, which contain 28 items of policies and measures relating to liberalization and facilitation of trade in goods and service. You can learn more specific content after its release, and here I'd like to briefly introduce these 28 items.

First, we will implement specific tasks of the Master Plan for the Construction of the Hainan Free Trade Port. For example, in the area of trade in goods, we will adhere to the principle of free flow through the "first line" and efficient control at the "second line." (The "first line" refers to the demarcation line between Hainan FTP and other countries and overseas regions while the "second line" refers to the dividing line between Hainan FTP and other regions on the Chinese mainland.) We will allow certain regions to relax their control of import and export qualifications for and quantities of commodities such as crude oil, refined oil and sugar, and cancel their licensing systems for imports such as mechanical and electrical products. In the area of trade in services, in accordance with the requirement of "allowing both access and operation," foreign institutions are explicitly allowed to independently hold foreign-related economic and technological exhibitions with names other than "China," "Chinese," or "national." Business activities related to technological import and export will no longer need to record registration for foreign trade operators. We are exploring ways to cancel examination and permission for auction enterprises and records of commercial franchise.

Second, we will serve the construction needs of the Hainan FTP. The supporting measures will include: delegating refueling permission of bonded bunker fuel for ships engaged on international voyages; greenlighting Hainan for the export of secondhand vehicles; piloting accreditation of trade in goods-related commodities, management and service certification bodies; encouraging Hainan to develop new trade patterns such as offshore global trade, digital, technological and cultural trade, as well as the exhibition economy; welcoming the establishment of trade bases of cultural goods; vigorously innovating models of international cooperation in the trade in service sector; and expanding trade by focusing on market entities, so as to build Hainan into a new global and regional offshore trade center as well as an exhibition center.

Third, we will optimize supporting policies in the trade sector. The following measures will be taken: improving risk warning and rapid response supervision capabilities for the quality and security of imports and exports; strengthening innovation of the customs supervision model; implementing multi-level approval models; facilitating prescribed examination procedures; supporting Hainan to participate in establishing recommended national, regional or group standards; establishing work stations to deal with trade frictions and mechanisms for trade adjustment and assistance; and improving the statistical monitoring system and other measures in a bid to realize integrated innovation in trade systems.

Next, the MOC will work with relevant departments to expedite trade liberalization and facilitation at the Hainan FTP. Thank you.

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