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January 15, 2018

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China FTZs ease rules for foreign firms

A Sino-British joint venture will soon begin outbound tourism business for Chinese tourists in the Shanghai free trade zone.

Registered in the FTZ in 2015 by Thomas Cook Group and Shanghai’s Fosun International, Fosun Tourism and Culture Group is one of the beneficiaries of fine-tuning to some laws and regulations in China’s FTZs to further opening-up and reform.

Eleven regulations including those on ship registration, urban rail transit and foreign investment are to be temporarily adjusted, according to a State Council decision.

One regulation specifically deals with foreign investment in tourism. Joint ventures registered in the zones are now allowed directly into outbound tourism for Chinese residents. Previous regulations meant joint ventures had to work with local travel agencies on outbound tourism, but could apply for their own license after two years.

Xu Bingbin, vice president of the group, said his firm offers several products for Chinese tourists, and since the change to regulations, revenue is expected to increase tenfold this year.

“The alteration of these laws and regulations will further the opening up of China’s free trade zones,” said Ren Yibiao, general manager of the National Base for International Culture Trade (Shanghai). The changes are also good for FTZ businesses involved in shipping, agriculture, aerospace and urban rail transit.

As of October 2017, nearly 18,000 firms were registered in the Shanghai FTZ, double the number in the four previous bonded zones when they merged in September 2013. In the first three quarters of 2017, foreign trade in the zone rose 16.2 percent year on year to US$150 billion.

The FTZ was launched to trial streamlined business registration. Companies can register and be operational in the zone in three working days, down sharply from the previous 40.

In 2014, three more FTZs opened in Tianjin, and Guangdong and Fujian provinces. A third batch of seven more opened in August 2016.


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