'Bold' steps ahead for opening-up

Updated 2018-04-27 10:39:06 China Daily

Russian tourists arrive in Sanya, Hainan Province.

Former vice-minister says nation's free trade zones will lead the way

Further measures to promote opening up aim to turn China into the world's best place to do business, according to a former vice-minister of commerce.

"All opening measures to be introduced point to the ultimate goal. The government hopes to let China become the best place to do business and invest," said Wei Jianguo, a former vice-minister of commerce, and vice-chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges.

China ranked 78 among 190 economies in the ease of doing business index, according to the World Bank's Doing Business 2018 report.

He said China will take gradual and cautious steps to achieve the goal, but some "bold" steps will be taken in the free trade zones.

"They are expected to beat all other large free trade regions such as in Singapore," he said.

More trials to remove barriers for foreign investors are expected in Hainan, according to Wei.

Earlier this month, the central government issued a guideline to establish a free trade zone in Hainan by 2020, with plans to build a free trade port and encourage more foreign investment.

Chi Fulin, president of the China Institute for Reform and Development, wrote in an article published earlier this week that a shortened negative list for Hainan should be introduced, where it has the least number of areas restricted for foreign investors compared to other free trade zones in China.

All sectors will open to foreign investors except for those outlined in the negative list.

Further opening up measures to be introduced will ensure all domestic and foreign players compete on an equal footing "in every aspect", said Wei.

"It means all market players will benefit from the same level of preferential policies in tax cuts, logistics, and enjoy the same level of intellectual property protection," he said.

Earlier this month, the National Development and Reform Commission said the government would introduce two new negative lists, one that applies to free trade zones, including bolder opening-up policies, and another for the rest of the nation.

China has accelerated the pace this year of removing administrative controls and lowering the threshold for market access.

Apart from measures to promote opening up in the financial and automobile sectors, a string of opening-up policies will cover industries such as energy, resources, infrastructure, transportation, logistics and professional services, according to the commission.

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