A group of seven new free trade zones (FTZs) are slated for inauguration in China, as the country looks to accelerate reforms in more test beds.
A draft guideline for Chongqing FTZ has been presented to the State Council and is waiting for final approval, the Economic Information Daily reported on Monday. Preparation in Henan and Shaanxi provinces is also moving into final stage.
The central government approved applications for the third batch of FTZs in August last year, including Liaoning in the northeast, Shaanxi in the northwest, Zhejiang in the east, Henan and Hubei in Central China, and Sichuan and Chongqing in the southwest.
Designed as a testing platform for economic reforms, an FTZ is able to lower the threshold for businesses to set up new companies, cut restrictions on capital flows, and offer more market access to foreign investment.
According to the plan, Chongqing will help to implement the country's western development strategy. Hubei will build a base for high-tech industries and promote the Yangtze River Economic Belt. Shaanxi will diversify trade connections along the Belt and Road Initiative. Henan will transform into a major logistics center. Zhejiang will push forward trade liberalization and e-commerce businesses. Liaoning will conduct market reforms to reinvigorate the old industrial heartland.
With the new zones, China will have 11 FTZs. Analysts expect the move to deliver a flurry of “reform dividends”.