Three separate areas in a free trade zone in northeast China's Liaoning Province were inaugurated on April 10, part of the measures to invigorate the old industrial base.
A total of 181 companies obtained business licenses Monday in the FTZ's Dalian, Shenyang and Yingkou areas. An additional 350 firms are planning to follow suit.
"Our company will invest 10 billion yuan ($1.45 billion) in a project that will have an annual production capacity of 300,000 new energy cars," said Zhou Guangsheng, legal representative of a clean energy automobile company based in Shenyang, the provincial capital.
His firm was given the go ahead to establish a base in the FTZ's Shenyang area with a registered capital of 100 million yuan.
Liaoning FTZ covers about 120 square km, with 60 square km in Dalian and 30 square km in Shenyang and Yingkou respectively. It focuses on logistics, equipment manufacturing, auto and parts, e-commerce and information industry.
"Institutional innovation will be at the core of business in the FTZ so we can build on the new advantage of the open economy in the old industrial base," said Wang Menghui, deputy Communist Party chief of the province.
It is hoped that the FTZ will help accelerate reform at local state-owned enterprises. Liaoning posted the poorest economic growth among all provincial regions last year.
On April 1, unveiling ceremonies were held for the country's seven new FTZs, which cover provinces including Liaoning and southwestern Sichuan.
To support continued opening up, China established its first FTZ in Shanghai in 2013, and later expanded to three more provincial-level areas of Tianjin, Fujian and Guangdong. With the addition of the seven new FTZs, China now has 11 in total.
(Xinhua News Agency April 10, 2017)