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China launches three more free trade zones | Updated: 2015-04-21 11:28

China launches three more free trade zones
Shao Yu, Shanghai-based chief economist of the Orient Securities Co,Ltd, said the four FTZs will be crucial "supporting points" for the belt and road initiative.

"More opening-up moves are needed in regions such as southwestern Yunnan and Tibet for the new strategic layout," he said.

Wang Shouwen, assistant minister of commerce, has said that the new zone will not just copy the Shanghai zone but also break fresh ground in areas such as the investment administration, trade regulation and financial systems.

The replication of successful reform measures is a common strategy in the reform and opening-up drive. The Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, founded in 1980, has been rolled out along the entire east coast over the past three decades.

That zone allowed foreign investment to develop the manufacturing industry, a driving force behind the economic boom of previous decades.

The FTZ fever has caught the attention of officials across the country, with many pushing for their regions to be included in the next batch of FTZs.

However, observers warned that the central government must ensure that the FTZs are used to pioneer reform measures, and that their policies are correctly implemented.

Dragged down by a housing downturn, softening domestic demand and unsteady exports, the once sizzling economy registered its lowest annual expansion in 24 years in 2014 and the weakness has continued into 2015.

Authorities have called for more opening-up policies to shore up development amid concerns of the slower growth, officially dubbed the "new normal."

Foreign business groups have said that the Shanghai zone brought improvements but they expected "more tangible benefits" of financial reforms, such as full convertibility of the yuan.

The China (Tianjin) Pilot Free Trade Zone will cover 119.9 sq km and consist of three parts:

1. The North Port Area of Tianjin Port (30 sq km)-It will focus on modern services such as air logistics, international trade, financing and leasing.

2. The Tianjin Airport Area (43.1 sq km)-It will focus on advanced manufacturing industries such as aviation, equipment of various kinds, next-generation information technology and producer services including research and development and design.

3. The central business district in the Binhai New Area (46.8 sq km)-It will focus on modern services such as financial innovation.

The China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone will expand from 29 sq km to 120.72 sq km. It will encompass Pudong (the city's main business district), the Lujiazui financial district, the Qiantan area and two development districts.

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