NPC deputy: Free trade ports require rigorous, wise planning

By Zhang Liying
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, March 14, 2018
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China's free trade ports must be constructed with both rigor and care, Huang Maoxing said in an interview with on Monday during the first session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) held in Beijing. Huang is the dean of the School of Economics at Fujian Normal University and a deputy to the 13th NPC.

Huang Maoxing, a deputy to the 13th NPC and the dean of the School of Economics at Fujian Normal University [Photo courtesy of Huang Maoxing]

According to the report delivered by General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Xi Jinping to the 19th CPC National Congress, China " will grant more power to pilot free trade zones (FTZs) to conduct reform and explore the opening of free trade ports."

A free trade port refers to an entire port area built within a country's territory but lying outside of customs boundaries, allowing free flow of cargo, capital and personnel, and offering tariff exemptions for most cargo exiting and entering the area.

In the 2018 government work report, delivered at the opening meeting of the ongoing session, Premier Li Keqiang also said that the country plans to "spread the use of practices developed in FTZs all over the country, and to explore opening free trade ports."

A dozen Chinese municipalities and provinces have begun attempts to lead the way in building free trade ports that will facilitate trade and investment, reported

Huang suggested that the central government accelerate the development of a top-level design to construct free trade ports, and implement the design actively and judiciously.

With the development of 11 pilot FTZs, said Huang, China has made major institutional reforms to advance trade and investment liberalization, to build a more open financial system, and most importantly to align with international business rules.

"It's time for the country now to phase in a new policy, which can combine the successful experience offered by FTZs with local conditions to forge 'new heights in reform and opening up."

But he noted a free trade pilot is not simply an upgraded version of an FTZ, but has stricter requirements, including a vast locality, large cargo-handling capacity and rigorous alignment with international business policy.

"In designating free trade ports, the government needs to take different conditions of candidates into full consideration and make prudent choices." 

He also recommended that mechanisms be established to coordinate the administration of customs, quality supervision, inspection, quarantine and maritime safety in free trade ports to improve efficiency.

Huang commented that China's investigation into building free trade ports symbolizes its continuous commitment to reform and opening up. The move also demonstrates China's position as a responsible major trade participant ready to share the benefits of its development with other countries, Huang added.

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