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State Council issues plan on pilot free trade zone in Hubei province

Updated: Mar 31,2017 3:05 PM

The State Council released a circular on the pilot free trade zone (FTZ) in Hubei province, a key policy to expand opening-up, accelerate rise of Central China, and promote development of the Yangtze River economic belt.

According to the circular, the pilot FTZ should be built as a demonstration area for industrial transfer and clusters of high-tech and strategic new industries.

With an area of 119.96 square kilometers, the FTZ covers three regions — Wuhan, Xiangyang, Yichang — and their surrounding areas.

Wuhan should be developed as the base of information technology, life science, smart manufacturing, international trade, financial service, modern logistics, and other new industries and modern services.

Xiangyang should focus on high-end equipment manufacturing, new energy vehicles, big data, and cloud computing.

Yichang should take the lead in advanced manufacturing, biological medicine, new materials, headquarters economy, e-commerce, and other modern service industries.

The circular asked for enhanced efforts to deepen administrative streamlining, cut unnecessary approvals, and improve the one-stop service mode.

National treatment and a negative list should be in place for foreign enterprises to raise efficiency, attract more foreign capitals, technologies, and talent.

Meanwhile, the circular asked policies to support enterprises in diversified overseas investment, and international cooperation in capacity and equipment manufacturing, integrating themselves in the Belt and Road Initiative.

According to the circular, the FTZ should build comprehensive service platforms for foreign trade to offer clearance, financing, tax rebate for small and medium-sized enterprises.

The circular also supports the FTZ to conduct cooperation with nations along the belt and road route in customs, inspection, certification, and standard measurement.

The circular stated that the FTZ should expand opening of the financial sector to promote cross-border trade and convenient settlement, and ease the access restriction on collective management of foreign liquid assets of international enterprises.

Meanwhile, eligible Chinese and foreign banks are allowed to establish new and special branches in the pilot FTZ. Foreign capitals are also allowed to take part in the trade market of equity, technology and other elements.

The circular also urged more efforts against money laundering, financing for terrorism, tax evasion, and other illegal activities and risks.

Diversified transportation should be encouraged to build the FTZ into an international logistics hub with all eligible ports upgraded to first-level ports, said the circular.