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China to open Hainan further

Updated: Apr 9, 2021 By OUYANG SHIJIA/ZHENG YIRAN China Daily Print
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A view of Sanya Bay in Hainan province. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

China announced a number of special measures on Thursday aimed at further relaxing market access in the Hainan Free Trade Port, showing the country's drive to further open up to the world.

Officials and experts said the move is part of the government's ongoing efforts to build a testing ground for reforms and pursuing opening-up at higher levels. It is also intended to help build Hainan Island into an internationally influential and high-quality free trade port, which will serve as a new growth engine for both the national and the global economy.

The country rolled out 22 measures to facilitate the free flow of key production factors and cultivate industries with comparative advantages internationally, according to a document jointly released by the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Commerce.

New measures include supporting online sales of prescription drugs, helping the island develop an online games sector, exploring the delegation of the approval of online games to Hainan, supporting Hainan in building charging stations for new energy vehicles and pressing ahead with autonomous driving technologies and boosting the innovative development of homegrown high-end medical equipment.

The newly announced measures led shares of companies with links to Hainan free trade port to jump 1.17 percent on Thursday, with Huawen Media Group and Lanhai Medical Investment Co both surging by the 10 percent daily trading limit, according to Shanghai-based information provider Wind Info.

Xu Shanchang, director of the NDRC's Department of Economic System Reform, said the new measures have demonstrated the country's firm determination to deepen reforms and open up wider to the outside world.

"The new document will help fully spur the vitality of market entities,...attract global capital and talent as well as accelerate the technology push," Xu added. "It is also a key move to help further shortening the nationwide negative list for market access.

"Once tested and proved to be effective in Hainan Island, some measures will be applied nationwide with a new, shortened negative list."

Zhou Maohua, an analyst at China Everbright Bank's financial market department, said the new measures will help improve Hainan's business environment, boost the development of local industries, create more jobs and accumulate experience for China's high-level opening-up.

Cui Weijie, director of the Institute of Industry Development and Strategy under the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said the new measures mark the government's latest move to implement the master plan released in June on building a high-quality free trade port in Hainan province.

The plan aims to establish a basic free trade port policy system with a key focus on enhancing free trade and investment by 2025.

Cui highlighted measures supporting tourism, modern services and high-tech sectors, saying those measures will help foster high-quality development in Hainan and build it into a model for economic transformation and opening-up nationwide.

"Facing a complicated and grim international situation, China chooses to not shut its doors but open up wider to the outside, which will help inject new impetus to global economic recovery," Cui said.

Fueled by a package of preferential government policies, the actual use of foreign investment in Hainan totaled about $3 billion last year, doubling from $1.5 billion in 2019, according to the Hainan provincial commerce department.

Testing ground

Bai Ming, deputy director of the international market research department under the Ministry of Commerce, said Hainan is set to serve as a testing ground for economic reforms and higher-level opening-up."I expect that a series of further opening-up measures will be released soon, including the medical, healthcare and education sectors."

Allergan Aesthetics, a global business unit of the United States-based pharmaceutical company AbbVie Inc, said it has witnessed a series of concrete measures by the government to bring down trade barriers and ensure a business-friendly environment, which has reinforced its confidence in China.

"China's efforts in streamlining its approval of imported medicines and medical devices are highly commendable. Thanks to Hainan's special policy, our new medical aesthetics products were granted early approval and access in the Hainan Boao Lecheng Pilot Zone. We experienced the openness, transparency and efficiency of China's local government," said Jason Smith, senior vice-president and president of International Allergan Aesthetics.

Hungchih Liu, senior vice-president of global infrastructure consultancy company AECOM Asia-Pacific, said the government's ongoing efforts to build a high-quality free trade port in Hainan have shown China's resolve to promote globalization and further integrate itself into the world economy.

"The government's construction of Hainan Free Trade Port will encourage more enterprises to develop and invest in China. And we will be dedicated to the Chinese market as well as participating in the development of Hainan," Liu added.

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