Hainan province is continuing its efforts to promote the development of the free trade zone covering the whole island, while exploring ways to build a free trade port, provincial officials said on March 7.
Liu Cigui, Party secretary of Hainan province and a deputy to the 13th National People’s Congress, said the FTZ made substantial progress last year as it pursued opening-up on all fronts.
The zone promoted one-stop service for companies to facilitate international trade, and it gave green lights only to environmentally friendly projects such as tourism, services and high-tech industries, Liu said at the plenary meeting of the Hainan delegation attending the annual lawmaking session.
The zone won’t approve any new projects that put pressure on the environment, Liu said.
Hainan received approval in April 2018 to build a pilot free trade zone covering the whole island. China also plans to establish a free trade port in Hainan by 2025, aiming for a “mature” system by 2035, according to a government document.
Free trade ports are regarded as the world’s most open form of economic zone and have brought prosperity to places such as Singapore, thanks to broad-based preferential trade and investment policies.
Liu said Hainan started exploration the feasibility of a free trade port last year and has been trying to figure out how to reflect “Chinese characteristics” in the port and what specific steps are needed to achieve the goal.
The government will further improve the business environment and simplify administrative procedures, Mao Chaofeng, vice-governor of Hainan province, said on March 7.
Mao, who is also a deputy to the NPC, said the government’s main achievement was setting up an international system to evaluate the business environment throughout the island. The province also rolled out measures to help address companies’ financing difficulties and shortened the registration process for them last year.
Last month, Hainan launched a 3 billion yuan ($447 million) fund for FTZ construction. The municipal government of Sanya, a popular tourist city in Hainan, and Hainan Development Holdings Co each invested 1.5 billion yuan to set up Hainan Pilot Free Trade Zone Opening and Development Fund.
The fund, with a target scale of 50 billion yuan, will offer financial support for various projects in the province, the government said.