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Innovation, reform are more important than policies alone | Updated: 2013-09-02 23:35

Whether Shanghai's pilot free trade area can push China's reforms ahead depends on if it can break the old regional development model of relying on the central government's favorable policies, said an article in the Southern Metropolis Daily (excerpts below).

Shanghai, Tianjin and Guangzhou have all applied for central government approval to build free trade areas. Shanghai has been earmarked as a pilot area.

Shanghai received some preferential land, tax and finance policies from the central authority to stoke its initial take-off. However, Shanghai should explore a self-reliant development approach to set a model for other places.

The central government should allow sufficient freedom to Shanghai to carry out pioneering reforms.

But Shanghai needs innovation and reform not just preferential policies. Otherwise, it is impossible for the pilot FTA program to fulfill its target.

If the FTA pilot project is successful, Shanghai will become a supply chain hub in Asia and a regional center for the worldwide commodity trade.

If Shanghai’s experience can be applied to other places in China, establishing the Shanghai FTA will be an important reform comparable to setting up the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone in 1979.

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