China (Hubei) Pilot Free Trade Zone was launched on April 1, 2017. It is a major strategic move carried out by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council to promote the reform and opening up, accelerate the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt and boost the development of Central China.
It takes up about 120 square kilometers, including 70 sq km in the East Lake High-tech Development Zone in Wuhan (covering the 5.41-sq-km Wuhan East Lake Comprehensive Bonded Zone), 21.99 sq km in Xiangyang (covering the 0.281-sq-km Xiangyang Bonded Logistics Center) and 27.97 sq km in Yichang.
In 2017, 272 foreign-invested projects were newly set up in the zone, up 15.74 percent year-on-year; the contractual foreign capital amounted to 8.61 billion US dollars, an increase of 157.61 percent year-on-year; the actual use of foreign capital reached 10.99 billion US dollars, up 8.54 percent year-on-year.
Division of functions
Wuhan area is the largest and most mature area of the Hubei Free Trade Zone. It covers seven parks, the East Lake Comprehensive Protection Zone, Optics Valley Biological City, Future Science and Technology City, Optics Valley Central City, Photoelectronic Information Industry Park, Optics Valley Modern Service Park and Optics Valley Intelligent Manufacturing Industry Park. It focuses on the advanced manufacturing industry and modern service industry, strategic emerging industries and high-tech industries.
Xiangyang area focuses on high-end equipment manufacturing, new energy vehicles, big data, cloud computing, business logistics, inspection and testing industries.
Yichang area focuses on the development of advanced manufacturing, biomedicine, electronic information, new materials and other high-tech industries, R&D and design, headquarters economy, e-commerce and other modern services.
The Wuhan East Lake High-Tech Development Park will form from several industrial clusters with dominant technologies in fields such as optoelectronics, biology, geomatics and their applications based on a friendly environment for innovation and entrepreneurship. By 2020, it will realize a total income of 3 trillion yuan ($440 billion), and be a world-class high-tech park known internationally as “Optics Valley”.
The Hubei FTZ has three main advantages: policy, capital and talent.
As regards the policy advantage, the administration functions and duties and the approval process have been simplified under the new Bureau of Administration and Services. And administrative examinations can be conducted online. Moreover, the Hubei FTZ also provides support development for different types of companies.
As far as capital advantage is concerned, the Hubei FTZ has an excellent financial environment with 800 technology financial institutions. It has a credit service funded with over 60 billion yuan and policies to help enterprises to raise money.
For talent development, the Hubei FTZ has had in place several polices such as "3551 Optics Valley talent Schema", "333 Meeting" and "Talent Specialist" to introduce more high-level workers since 2009.