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Provinces pin high hopes on FTZs

China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-03 09:41

Businesses await opportunities

By WU YONG in Beijing

Provinces pin high hopes on FTZs

Gao Haitao, founder of the Liaoning Zhonghe Import-Export Company, is making sure his company is fully prepared for the forthcoming Liaoning free trade zone.

The 40-year-old trader has been in the business for two decades and enjoys a good reputation among local small and medium-sized manufacturing companies.

"We are really excited at the opportunities that the FTZ will bring. We hope it will energize local private businesses and help them to engage in the international market," said Gao.

He is working on a platform to provide comprehensive services from financing to training for small players.

The central government has approved the third batch of FTZs, including Liaoning, Hubei and Henan provinces, in August to further push forward supply-side reforms and boost the economy.

Liaoning, located in Northeast China, is a traditional industrial base that has suffered sluggish economic growth in the past few years. It used to be the main driving force for the whole country in the 1950s and 1960s, but now it lags far behind the eastern coastal regions, such as Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces.

Industry insiders said that the central government wants to use the FTZs to stimulate both the transformation of government functions and economic restructuring.

Liaoning has a 2,000-kilometer coastline, dozens of coastal cities and close trade connections with countries such as Japan, South Korea and Russia. The province has a large number of manufacturing companies.

Chen Qiufa, the governor of Liaoning, said the province would speed up the FTZ construction and be integrated into the Belt and Road Initiative. The government will support the port cities to set up international transport corridors to focus on the shipping of steel and coal.

According to Chen, the Liaoning FTZ will consist of three cities-Shenyang, Dalian and Yingkou. The major work includes investment management, trade regulation and financial renovation. Dalian will focus on the cross-border e-commerce and Yingkou would concentrate on trade between China and South Korea.

"The main industries in Liaoning's FTZ include shipping, logistics and manufacturing," said Zhang Wanqiang, director of the institute of economics at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences

"Shenyang is a heavy industrial city. Dalian and Yingkou are port cities. Shenyang can promote the heavy industry development through trade. This is vital for the revitalization of Northeast China."

Zhang said that the FTZ would become a new way of opening up international cooperation. It would prompt the province to speed up the reform of State-owned enterprises and promote the exchange of logistics, information and capital.

The Dalian municipal government announced recently that it would complete the first phase of reform and innovation by the end of June.

Three international logistics channels would be created to support Dalian Port to become a major logistics hub along the Belt and Road.

Gao from Zhonghe company said he was negotiating with a partner from Europe to set up a warehouse in Britain.

"We have a large number of manufacturing enterprises, skilled workers and excellent products. I am fully confident that we can make it."

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