China / News

City takes a must-do step for the future

By Sun Ye (China Daily) Updated: 2016-03-04 09:42

Integration with Guangzhou enables de facto free trade zone to be established

If you look at the list of the country's designated free trade zones, Foshan is not on the list.

However, the city in South China's Guangdong province, which is best known for its home decoration and electric appliance industries, promises to offer all the perks of a free trade zone, according to local officials.

"The city is launching a de facto free trade zone as an answer to the times," Zhang Kaiji, director-general of the Foshan Bureau of Commerce told China Daily. "We are adjusting ourselves to meet the requirements of businesses and working hard to create a friendly environment."

Foshan is a close neighbor of Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province, and the two cities have started to integrate with each other in the last few years, to take advantage of their synergies and better distribute resources.

Seizing the opportunity of the two cities' integration, Foshan is also incorporating the favorable policies of the Guangdong Pilot Free Trade Zone, part of which is located in Guangzhou, which was approved by the central government in April 2015.

The city has thus vowed to facilitate investment, trade and customs clearance, as well as carry out financial reform and innovation, the same as other free trade zones.

"Foshan has always been a city big on innovation, it's always among the first to adjust to the times," Zhang said.

Since its plan to emulate other free trade zones was launched late last year, the city has already implemented several measures, and procedures have been simplified for enterprises looking to do business in the city.

According to the local government, the time for a project to get approval has shortened from more than 200 working days to 48 days on average.

While the number of times applicants have to go to various government departments for approval has been reduced from 28 to two. The fees payable have also been reduced and a cross-platform digital administrative system has been launched to offer further conveniences to businesses.

Such substantial improvements in efficiency are not only applicable to companies. The procedures for personal businesses have also been simplified via an all-encompassing digital platform. The city has rightly called the initiative a "one-stop shop", as residents now only have to go to one service window to complete the administrative requirements.

For customs clearance, Foshan has launched "Internet Plus" technologies to greatly simplify procedures. The local government said that all clearance procedures can now be done at one service window, service fees have been reduced and there are customs officers working around the clock.

When it comes to financial innovations, Foshan is working to facilitate cross-border investment and leases, as well as two-way cross-border exchanges of renminbi funds.

"Working on this de facto free trade zone plan has made it possible to lower costs and offset what we used to lack," Lu Yi, Party chief of Foshan, said at a recent meeting. "This is a must-do step for future development."

(China Daily 03/04/2016 page12)

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