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Time to roll out reforms that have cleared pilot free trade zone check

By LI YANG | China Daily | Updated: 2020-07-09 07:55

Yantai port, eastern China's Shandong province [Photo/WeChat account: yantaifabu]

 

The State Council, China's Cabinet, issued a notice on Wednesday, urging local governments to implement some reforms that have successfully been carried out in the pilot free trade zones.

This is the sixth batch of reforms carried out by the pilot FTZs that will be rolled out nationwide.

Since the founding of the first pilot FTZ in Shanghai in 2013, China has established 18 pilot FTZs, most of them in coastal and border regions.

The administrative committees of the FTZs have been granted more freedom to encourage them to implement institutional reform in key sectors such as finance, trade and governance. If the reforms fail, the costs can be restricted to these experimental fields.

By the end of last year, the pilot FTZs had introduced 202 reform measures, including the opening up of the financial sector, negative listing for foreign investment access and the streamlining of the procedures for international trade, expediting the country's integration with the global market.

The FTZs are becoming an effective platform to try out reform, just as the special economic zones the country founded, with Shenzhen as a representative, in the late 1970s and the 1980s.

The world's second-largest economy is not finding it any easier to carry out reform and opening-up compared with 40 years ago, when the main job was to transform the planned economic system.

It now urgently needs to not only dovetail its economy, market and relevant institutions with the global system, which some countries dislike, but also eliminate vested interests.

The competition among these pilot FTZs automatically spurs them to try their best to fulfill their respective assignments.

With the central authorities listing what the pilot FTZs have achieved, local governments have no reason to shy away from carrying out the reforms.

Some of the reforms might be painful at first, but they will help institutions adapt to the fast-changing circumstances.

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