The Yangshan Port, which is part of the Lin-gang Special Area of the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone (WEI YAO)
The addition of the Lin-gang Special Area to the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone (FTZ) demonstrates China's clear stance on adhering to all-round opening up in the new era and is an important measure to chart the course for the healthy development of economic globalization.
According to an overall plan issued by the State Council in July, the Lin-gang Special Area will match the standards of the most competitive global FTZs and facilitate overseas investment, capital flows and the free flow of goods. With the inclusion of the new special area, the Shanghai FTZ nearly doubled in size.
On November 8, during the Second China International Import Expo in Shanghai, Guo Yiming, a reporter with China.org.cn, conducted an exclusive interview with Chen Jie, Deputy Director of the Lin-gang Special Area Administration. An edited version follows:
China.org.cn: Following the launch of the Shanghai FTZ in September 2013, a decision was announced at the end of 2014 to expand the FTZ from 28.78 square km to 120.72 square km. What's the difference this time with the Lin-gang Special Area compared to the previous expansion?
Chen Jie: The addition of the Lin-gang area to the Shanghai FTZ aims at a higher level of opening up and deeper reform in broader fields, and is not just a simple expansion or duplication of existing FTZ policies.
Compared to previous FTZ reform efforts, which mostly focused on promoting investment and trade facilitation, the recent move is more targeted to freer trade and investment with the goal of building a special economic function zone with global competitiveness.
Here are some of the new features:
It represents a higher level of all-round openness, underlining freer investment, trade, finance, transportation and talent flow, as well as a quicker and more convenient information flow.
It has been tasked with new strategic agendas. Apart from serving the Belt and Road Initiative and the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt, the Lin-gang area is expected to promote coordinated development of the Yangtze River Delta and spearhead a new round of reform and opening up in the region.
It will focus on building industrial clusters for cutting-edge industries like artificial intelligence, integrated circuits, bio-medicine and civil aviation, while also promoting differentiated service sectors in shipping, cross-border finance and international trade.
The new area will be granted greater administrative power for self-reform, self-management and openness as well as more policy support by the Shanghai authorities.
Since the launch of the new area, how has its development been progressing?
On July 27, the State Council published a master plan for the development of the Lin-gang area. On August 30, the Shanghai municipal authorities also announced supporting policies for the high-quality development of the area.
The Lin-gang Special Area Administration categorized these arrangements into a total of 176 tasks with each assigned to different teams, departments and individuals to ensure smooth implementation.
Over one third of the policies and tasks are now being implemented, with the rest expected to be in place by the end of the year.
Generally speaking, the administration has been making efforts in the following areas:
It is pushing for institutional innovation and reform through supporting policies in terms of human resources, finance and industry.
It is promoting overall planning, studying strategic plans, including some specialized ones, to build long-term advantages for the Shanghai FTZ, while consolidating its current industrial foundation.
It is building industrial clusters. More than 1,300 companies have established operations in Lin-gang since the launch of the special area. This has brought in an investment of about 26 billion yuan ($3.7 billion), as new projects have begun construction.
It is creating a more business-friendly environment. While relaxing administrative powers, the new area is building a sound information system that will enable one-stop services for businesses operating in the region.
It is adopting measures to facilitate institutional reforms to ensure long-term development. Lin-gang has made huge progress in the past months, and we will work hard to keep the momentum going.
During President Xi Jinping's recent inspection tour to Shanghai, he urged the city to strengthen its role in allocating global resources, and leading technological innovation, advanced industrial development and opening up. What's Lin-gang's role in this vision?
In carrying out more profound opening up, I think the Lin-gang area should strive to become an important base for technological innovation with a large pool of global talent, as well as an important hub for offshore business. It will also position itself to serve the global development of domestic enterprises by making better use of both international and domestic markets and resources. Last but not least, it will become a pilot area for institutional reforms that can be implemented in other areas in the future.
What has the Lin-gang area done to create a better business environment?
To improve the business environment, we have done a lot of work, including better serving the companies operating in the area and streamlining administrative and approval procedures in line with international trade rules.
For example, it took U.S. electric carmaker Tesla only six months from signing the initial contracts to laying the groundwork of its gigafactory in Lin-gang, and 10 more months for the factory to finish its first phase of construction, which is a clear testament to the efficiency of the Shanghai FTZ.
During the process, we adopted many innovative measures to better meet the company's needs.
Many of these measures have now been scaled up to accommodate other new projects, which has led to even greater efficiency.
What we are doing now is making these provisional measures routine procedures for serving other businesses that are operating here.
(Reporting from Shanghai)
Copyedited by Rebeca Toledo
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