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China Moves to Expedite Implementation of Free Trade Zone Strategy

The State Council has earlier promulgated Several Opinions on Accelerating Implementation of the Free Trade Zone Strategy, calling for efforts to be made to expedite the pace of building more free trade zones to form a global free trade zone network serving neighbouring countries and regions, countries along the Belt and Road routes, as well as major countries in all five continents. This move will help liberalise and facilitate China’s foreign trade and two-way investment.

To quicken the pace of establishing high-standard free trade zones, the Opinions put forward requirements and measures in eight areas:

1. Raising the level of liberalisation of trade in goods. Action will be taken to join hands with free trade partners to reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers as well as open up the trade in goods market to one another in a bid to attain mutual benefit and a win-win situation.

2. Further opening up the service trade to the outside world. Steps will be taken to advance the orderly liberalisation of such service sectors as finance, education, culture and medical care; lower restrictions on market access for foreign investors in such areas as child care and elderly care, architecture and design, accounting and auditing, commerce and logistics, and e-commerce. Upon consensus reached with free trade partners through consultation, the negative list management mode will be gradually introduced.

3. Liberalising market access for investment. Great efforts will be devoted to implementing investment market liberalisation and foreign investment management system reform, further improving the foreign investment environment and  access for two-way investment between China and its free trade partners. Positive action will be taken to steadily advance convertibility of the renminbi under the capital account on a pilot basis, strengthen currency cooperation with free trade partners, and promote trade and investment facilitation.

4. Encouraging rules negotiations. Action will be taken to actively participate in free trade zone rules negotiations meeting the needs of China. Taking into consideration common international rules and their development trends, as well as China’s development level and governance ability, steps will be taken to encourage negotiations on such new topics as intellectual property protection, environmental protection, e-commerce, competition policies, and government sourcing.

5. Raising the level of trade facilitation. Efforts will be made to strengthen the implementation and management of the rules of origin, and to proactively explore the feasibility of implementing the self-certification of origin system in a wider scope. Action will also be taken to reform management systems governing customs supervision, inspection and quarantine; strengthen cooperation in such areas as customs inspection; and gradually implement the “single-window” system for the processing of documents related to international trade.

6. Promoting cooperation in regulatory systems. Efforts will be made to strengthen exchange of information with free trade partners on their respective supervision systems; promote integration of one another's systems, processes, methods and standards of supervision; lower trade costs; and enhance trade efficiency.

7. Facilitating the movement of natural persons. More favourable measures will be introduced to facilitate the entry and exit of the personnel of Chinese enterprises engaging in offshore investment. 

8. Enhancing economic and technical cooperation. Economic and technical cooperation in areas such as industrial cooperation, development cooperation and global value chain will be embraced to promote practical cooperation between China and its free trade partners.

For the Several Opinions on Accelerating Implementation of the Free Trade Zone Strategy, please refer to: http://www.gov.cn/zhengce/content/2015-12/17/content_10424.htm

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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