Beijing eyes plan for Hainan trade zone

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Boao Town in Hainan, China. Picture: Xinhua

China released on Tuesday a plan to build Hainan into a pilot free trade zone including substantial relaxation of market access for foreign companies and upgrading of trade facilitation to create a gateway for opening up toward the Pacific and the Indian oceans.

The China (Hainan) Pilot Free Trade Zone, approved by the State Council, will cover the whole island of Hainan. The government plans to make the zone an international tourism and shopping center, as well as offer services and support for development of the Belt and Road Initiative and other national strategies.

Wang Shouwen, vice minister of commerce, said as a demonstration of China’s resolve to further open up and promote economic globalization, the island, which covers 35,400 square kilometers, will be granted more autonomy to enact reforms and speed the fostering of a law-based, international and convenient business environment.

Hainan’s FTZ will adopt pre-entry national treatment and negative list management to increase openness, especially in areas like seed production, healthcare, telecommunications, internet, aviation, marine economy and new energy vehicle manufacturing.

It will abolish stock ownership ratio limits for foreigners in new vegetable variety breeding and seed production. It will transfer the power to approve foreign investment in value-added telecommunications services from the central government to Hainan province. In addition, it will allow foreign companies to hold up to a 51 percent ownership share in life insurance companies and remove foreign share ratio restrictions in vessel and general aircraft design, manufacturing and maintenance.

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