Business / Economy

Foreign firms to expand business reach in Tianjin

By LI XIANG/ZHANG MIN (China Daily) Updated: 2015-05-29 08:36

Foreign companies will be able to increase their presence in the China (Tianjin) Free Trade Zone and move into new sectors, including the trade of salt.

The Chinese government recently scrapped the country's 2,000-year-old State control on salt and opened up the business to private traders.

"Salt is one of the more than 40 business sectors that will be open to foreign capital in the FTZ," said Zong Guoying, head of the Tianjin Binhai New Area, where the free zone is located.

Foreign companies will also be able to set up wholly owned enterprises, and over-seas venture capitalists will be able to launch and manage yuan-denominated funds.

Other key areas for over-seas investors will be the manufacturing of high-speed railways, subways, and inter-city and urban rail systems, according to Zong. In addition, overseas investors can set up employment and educational agencies to help Chinese students study abroad.

In December, the central government approved the creation of a FTZ in Tianjin to further open up the Chinese market. The move came after the pioneering China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone was launched in September 2013, under what observers regarded as the boldest reform steps for decades.

Zhang Zhiqiang, secretary-general of the Tianjin municipal government, said the FTZ will have three separate sections, each with different priorities.

The 30-square-kilometer area around the airport will be used for advanced manufacturing, and aerospace and aviation logistics industries.

Tianjin Port, the world's fourth-largest by merchandise throughput capacity, will focus on shipping logistics, international trade and financial leasing. The largest zone will be located in the central business district in the Binhai New Area. It will concentrate on financial and technological innovation as well as cross-border e-commerce.

Zhang said high-end manufacturing and financial leasing are expected to become the defining characteristics of the FTZ.

"Both industries have solid foundations in Tianjin," he said. "We have set up an Airbus plant that will be expanded over time, and the city government is planning to establish and operate the country's first online plat-form for financial leasing."

A court is also expected to be set up to settle disputes related to the FTZ. This will ensure a professional judicial procedure is in place for financial disputes and infringements of intellectual property rights.

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