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China has been putting a lot of effort into building free trade zones (FTZs) in recent years. Now the efforts are going one step further, with the central government calling for the establishment of free trade ports, which will supposedly derive from the existing FTZs.
According to a report released by cs.com.cn on January 31, more than 10 provinces and cities across China said they will “actively explore [the possibilities] of establishing free trade ports. “Those regions not only include coastal cities and provinces like Shanghai, East China’s Zhejiang Province, South China’s Guangdong Province and East China’s Fujian Province, but also include inland provinces like Southwest China’s Sichuan Province.
According to a report released by the Xinhua News Agency in October 2017, the Ministry of Commerce is working toward establishing FTZs along with relevant provinces, cities and departments. In Shanghai, the blueprint for free trade port establishment is even clearer. According to media reports, the major player of the Shanghai free trade port initiative will operate in the Yangshan port area, while the Shanghai International Port (Group) Co will work with Zhejiang companies to further develop northern Yangshan.
Yang Rongjun, a spokesman for Shanghai International Port (Group) Co, confirmed to the Global Times on Wednesday that the company is still waiting for detailed guides from the government regarding the establishment of the Shanghai free trade port. According to the cs.com.cn report, the first batch of domestic free trade ports will likely be disclosed after the annual NPC and CPPCC sessions.
The Chinese government’s efforts to develop free trade areas started in August 2013, when the first FTZ was set up in Shanghai. In the following years, the government has gradually updated the functions of the FTZ there, as well as set up FTZs in other provinces. So far, China has set up 11 FTZs overall.