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September 30, 2016

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FTZ negative list to be introduced across China

A NEGATIVE list for foreign investment that was initiated by Shanghai’s pilot free trade zone, will now be rolled out nationwide three years after it debuted in the zone.

The list, which specifies the areas that are off limits to foreign capital, was introduced on September 29, 2013, when Shanghai FTZ was launched to test ground-breaking market deregulation and opening-up policies.

Foreign investments in areas not on the list are only subjected to a record-filing process, a shift from the previous case-by-case approval regime.

After being trialed at the FTZs in Guangdong, Fujian and Tianjin, the Ministry of Commerce said it would be introduced across China from tomorrow.

Ministry spokesman Shen Danyang said the negative list, which now includes 122 items, would be shortened to allow more areas for foreign investors.

The latest version was revised in April 2015. It singles out 15 industries that are completely or partially restricted to foreign capital, ranging from mining, telecommunications and financial services to medical services, legal services and education.

The list is among a slew of reform measures piloted in Shanghai FTZ with the sole purpose of cutting red tape and open up investments to foreign capital and liberalize control on financial flows. In the past three years, a batch of 31 new customs rules have shaved clearance times at the Shanghai FTZ for imports by an average 78.5 percent, and exports by 31.7 percent, data from Shanghai Customs showed. The overall costs for customs clearance were also reduced by about 30 percent.

The measures helped facilitate trade. In the first eight months of this year, exports and imports at Shanghai FTZ totaled 754.6 billion yuan (US$113 billion), accounting for 42 percent of the city’s total. The total of trading companies in the zone has risen to 24,000.

By the end of July, 45 financial institutions had opened 55,543 free trade accounts with companies in the zone, official data showed. Funds worth 6.7 trillion yuan have been transferred via the accounts.


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