China unveils new policies to push for more reforms in free trade zones
The State Council, China's cabinet, unveiled new measures on Friday to deepen reforms and innovation in pilot free trade zones (FTZs) in the country, a move for improving the business environment and facilitating trade.
The new policies will lower thresholds for foreign investors in FTZs in sectors that include construction, healthcare and financial services according to the document published on the government's website.
For instance, when a wholly foreign-owned construction enterprise in FTZs undertakes a joint construction project between Chinese and foreign firms, it is not subject to the limits on equity holdings in the project.
The scope of research and development has also been expanded in FTZs. Medical institutions in FTZs may conduct research into stem cells in line with relevant regulations, the document showed.
Meanwhile, qualified individuals in FTZs are encouraged to invest in overseas securities, the documents said. Currently, individuals can only invest in overseas securities through limited cross-border investment channels including stock market connect programs.
China has set up 12 FTZs over the past five years, which offered the country copious advances in institutional explorations, the Xinhua News Agency said on Monday.
The measures also allow different FTZs to explore ways to facilitate services in local pillar industries. For example, Zhengzhou airport in Central China's Henan Province and Xi'an airport in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province are encouraged to use the fifth freedom right, which allows foreign carriers to carry passengers and cargo to a third country via Zhengzhou and Xi'an in the country's two key FTZs.
In some FTZs where the China-Europe freight train runs, like in Southwest China's Chongqing, the new policies encourage the carrying of cross-border express mail services.
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