A key part of the Belt and Road Initiative in western China, Xi'an International Port Zone, launched on April 1 in Shaanxi province, aims to forge an inland port for reform and opening-up amid the anticipated increase in economic cooperation and cultural exchanges ahead, experts said.
Located in the delta area between the Bahe and Weihe rivers in northeastern part of Xi'an, the port zone, part of the China (Shaanxi) Pilot Free Trade Zone, borders the Bahe River in the west, extends to the railway in the north, reaches Xi'an-Hancheng Road in the east and joins the Third Ring Road and the Loop Road of Xi'an in the south.
Covering a planned area of 26.43 square kilometers, the port zone will incorporate several convenient transport facilities.
The free trade zone is one of seven pilot free trade zones approved by the central government at the end of August 2016, together with those of Liaoning, Zhejiang, Henan, Hubei, Chongqing and Sichuan.
Feng Zongxian, director of the graduate school of the Euro-Aisa Economic Forum and a professor at Xi'an Jiaotong University, said that in the past few years, the zone has already functioned as a free trade zone, which laid a solid foundation for approval from the government.
"The official launch is a new start of the zone. It aims to become a logistical hub and a new platform for international cultural exchanges," Feng said. In the future, the zone will focus on five reforms centered around investment, trade, finance and international inland transport, Feng said.
"It will set up a one-stop service platform for foreign investment along the Belt and Road Initiative, provide consultations and investment services and support enterprises such as Aiju Group in going abroad."
To forge the most competitive investment area in western China, the zone promotes industrial clusters and supports industries, technology, experts and start-ups through favorable policies regarding bulk examination, insourced processing, merged cargo manifest, shipping, centralized customs declarations and integrated regional clearance.
It will also establish the Shaanxi Free Trade Zone Arbitration Court and the Shaanxi Free Trade International Commercial Conciliation Center to improve the business environment in terms of rule of law, internationalization and convenience. "In terms of financial innovation, the port zone will set up a free trade accounting system that suits the free trade zone to promote cross-border trade and the convenience of investment and financing," Feng said.
He added that it will support commercial banks, financing and leasing, commercial insurance and factoring, guarantees, funding, asset trading and other financial services.
Relying on Shaanxi's financing and leasing industry, the zone strives to attract high-quality enterprises and create a new financial demonstrative zone in western China. The zone will also launch four new railway lines- Xi'an-Teheran, Xi'an-Kouvola, Xi'an-Budapest and Xi'an-Istanbul - to facilitate the opening of its platforms and channels.
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The newly launched Xi'an International Port Zone has established a series of preferential policies to attract investment:
1. Support the high-end service industry: It will provide up to 50 million yuan ($7.25 million) for the world's Fortune 500 companies and domestic Top 500 corporations that move in the zone.
2. Support operation and innovation of enterprises: Such enterprises will be eligible for an operational fund of up to 50 million yuan according to their innovative abilities and driving effect.
3. Support international trade and crossborder e-commerce: Enterprises that help expand business for the Changan Express and cross-border chartered cargo airlines will be granted financial support with "one-line, one-reward".
4. Encourage listing of enterprises: Enterprises in the zone that issue shares in the domestic market for the first time will be granted a reward of up to 5 million yuan.
5. Support the construction of industrial parks: For industrial parks above the provincial level that drive industrial development, the zone will grant a subsidy bank loan of up to 5 million yuan annually.
6. Strengthen financial support: For enterprises that garner national, provincial and municipal financial support, the zone will provide a supporting fund of up to 5 million yuan in accordance with 100 percent, 70 percent and 50 percent of the financial support.
7. Support the development of venture capital: For innovative and creative enterprises in the zone that win venture capital, the zone will grant up to 5 million yuan in additional financial support.
8. Support the clustering of high-end talents: For the educated experts who make outstanding contributions in individual income tax, the zone will grant a bonus of up to 1 million yuan in three years.
9. Set-up award: Encourage enterprises to establish innovative businesses and business models in regards to Internet Plus integration and free trade zones.
10. Carry out key project special policy: For major investment projects, a policy of "purchase after renting, and construction of standard workshops" will be carried out.
The cargo train to Moscow departs from the Xi'an inland port in Shaanxi province. Xinhua
The Xi'an International Port Zone aims to become a logistical hub and trade center in western China. Provided To China Daily