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Shanghai FTZ eyes further innovations in its ninth year

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  • Updated: Oct 12, 2021
A seagull-shaped gateway stands at the entrance of the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone. [Photo/CFP]

The China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, which is located in Shanghai, is poised to begin its ninth year of exploration of higher-level reform and opening-up, following the 8th anniversary of its launch on Sept 29.

The Shanghai FTZ has been a pioneer in introducing new practices. Of the institutional innovation experiences that have been promoted by the State Council nationwide, nearly half have originated from the Shanghai FTZ. To date, more than 300 pilot practices of the pilot zone, such as the "one integrated license" reform that significantly simplifies administrative procedures for businesses in terms of market access, have been rolled out to other regions in the country.

The market vitality in the Shanghai FTZ has received significant boosts from the favorable policies. Data showed that by August 2021, over 72,700 new companies, including 12,000 foreign-owned ones, had registered in the zone. In addition, the Shanghai FTZ had attracted more than $45 billion of foreign investment in actual use during the same period.

In the first seven months of 2021, Pudong New Area's imports and exports reached 1.29 trillion yuan ($199.94 billion), up 14.7 percent year-on-year.

According to the World Bank's latestDoing Businessreport, Shanghai has helped China climb from the 78th position in 2018 to the 31st position in 2020. This surprising progress is particularly seen in aspects like investment facilitation, law-based business environment, and operating costs, said Liu Mingyu, an associate professor of applied economics at Fudan University.

With the Shanghai FTZ leading the country's reform and opening-up, a total of 67 pilot free trade zones have been set up in China's 21 provinces and municipalities. In addition, the Free Trade Zone Alliance of the Yangtze River Delta Region, which was launched in May in Pudong, is expected to further promote the integration of the region, which comprises of Shanghai municipality, as well as Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Anhui provinces.

A guideline that was released on July 15 by the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council proposed building Pudong into a leading area for socialist modernization. A series of subsequent pilot programs, such as the Global Operation Program and the Group Open Innovation plan, will contribute to Pudong's efforts in deepening reform and opening-up.

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