A container port in the Yangpu economic development zone in Hainan Province on December 5, 2021 (XINHUA)
“China needs to boost the coordinated development of its free trade zones (FTZ),” Gao Feng, a member of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said at a plenary meeting during the national advisory body’s annual session on March 7.
FTZs connecting domestic and international markets have played a key role in trade facilitation and the expansion of opening up over more than eight years since the program first launched. Yet they need to speed up reforms in line with international standards, Gao said.
He suggested creating more FTZs devoted to border trade in central and western regions, and uplifting and expanding such zones in the east. Priority should go to supporting the establishment of comprehensive bonded zones in the FTZs where conditions allow, according to Gao.
“FTZs in an economic region should be encouraged to align their development programs and establish regional regulatory regimes to facilitate the smooth flow of production necessities,” he said. “The government needs to give full play to the role of FTZs in institutional innovation, and improve the exit mechanism for those failing to meet their expected roles.”
According to Gao, efforts should be intensified to widen market access and optimize industrial policies under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership’s competitive neutrality principle to promote enterprises in FTZs to participate in global value chains. Stress tests, conducted in line with the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership membership requirements, too, should feature high on the agenda. Adjustments of taxation policies applicable to FTZs should endorse zero tariffs, barriers and subsidies, he added.
Gao called for the development of a cross-department security assessment mechanism for data exports, and extensive international cooperation in data security management and utilization.
“Also, we must explore a unified negative list-based management system for foreign investment and cross-border trade in services,” Gao said.
Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon
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