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Report: Shanghai Free Trade Zone Members' Briefing

BritCham / CBBC
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On 29 October, BritCham/CBBC members travelled to view the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone. Forty-five members, including many from the finance and professional services sectors, attended a briefing by Shanghai Waigaoqiao United Development Co. Ltd, the state-owned developer and operator of the Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone, which comprises the largest part of the overall zone.
Attending the briefing for Shanghai Waigaoqiao United Development Co were Gong Jianbo, deputy general manager, and Jerry Xie, deputy general manager of the marketing department, and his team. BritCham/CBBC participants included Bupa, Royal Mail, Simmons & Simmons, Marks & Spencer, Vermillion Partners, the University of Central Lancashire and Atkins.
Key points of the briefing
The presentation covered four main points:
  1. Summary of key encouraged areas of FTZ
  2. New policies in the FTZ including the "negative list"
  3. Function and expansion of the FTZ
  4. Legal policy
What makes the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone different?
The key advantages of the new FTZ are that it aims to:
1. Open up to new encouraged industries:
  • Financial services
  • Transportation services and logistics
  • Commerce and Trading related Services
  • Professional services
  • Cultural and creative businesses
  • Public services
2. Have more transparent and efficient administrative processes. The FTZ will operate from a negative list (see attachment below for details of this). The current version will be reviewed and updated on at least an annual basis. The operators aim to keep the negative list to a minimum and encourage more opening-up of the zone.
The company pointed out that while it is important to encourage opening-up and the development of free trade, the sustainable growth of the economy as a whole must also be maintained. This is why the government and the zone will take a step-by-step approach as regards releasing details of its development: to ensure that both international companies and the development zone can be successful in the long term.
This is especially the case in the finance sector and on topics such as RMB capital account convertibility, offshore RMB business and interest rate liberalisation. Changes to these policies may affect both Chinese and global economies, so a positive but prudent approach must be taken.
More details are being made available to international companies through various means:
  1. Website: www.shftz.gov.cn
  2. WeChat
  3. Shanghai Waigaoqiao United Development Co teams.

Q&A session
Jerry Xie and his team in the marketing department went through 14 pre-submitted questions from BritCham/CBBC members. Mr Xie also encouraged an open Q&A, allowing members to ask direct questions on specific topics. 
Bonnie Bao from Linklaters asked for specific information on a new concept called "one-stop registration", which will reduce the time for filing a new company in the zone to four to six days. This will enable the simultaneous submission of documents and make the process more efficient.
Neal Hao from JAG-UFS Logistics asked whether logistics companies were allowed in the zone. It was confirmed that logistics is encouraged. The zone aims to help the efficiency of logistics operations in China, and logistics is very much an encouraged area.
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