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Experts Expect More Sophisticated Experiments in Shanghai FTZ

At the fourth edition of a forum on China’s pilot free trade zones (FTZ) recently held at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics on the theme of “scaling new heights”, experts on FTZ studies around the country and representatives from government departments summed up and explained the experience gained in the development of the Shanghai FTZ in the past three years. The participants agreed that the Shanghai FTZ needs to carry out more sophisticated experiments of higher standards in the global value chain.

The China (Shanghai) Pilot FTZ established in September 2013 was FTZ version 1.0. Three more pilot FTZs (dubbed version 2.0) were established in April 2015, resulting in a 1+3 setup. Recently seven new pilot FTZs (dubbed version 3.0) were approved, leading to a “1+3+7” setup. The rapid expansion of China’s pilot FTZs is of global and strategic significance in promoting the national strategies of the Belt and Road Initiative and the Yangtze River Economic Belt and building a new economic system.

The basic institutional framework of the Shanghai FTZ has been replicated and promoted to pilot FTZs across the nation, said an expert attending the forum, adding that some of the features of this framework even go beyond the scope of FTZs.

An expert pointed out that three years after its establishment, the Shanghai FTZ will need to carry out more sophisticated experiments of higher standards in order to be able to shoulder greater responsibility. To this end, it needs to “take the lead in three respects”: namely, carry out systems integration for institutional innovation, carry out stress test for international investment and trade rules of higher standards, and promote the co-ordinated alignment of pilot FTZs and major national strategies.

As global competition shifts from market share to securing a better position in the value chain, institutional innovation should also shift from capital investment in real objects to capital investment in knowledge, said one of the experts.

Speaking on the future of the Shanghai FTZ, an expert maintained that the FTZ should continue to take institutional innovation as the kernel task and common thread in the deepening of reform and opening up, speed up the innovation of the investment management system and bring about the transformation of government functions. At the same time, it should conduct more sophisticated experiments aimed at better serving the Yangtze River Delta (YRD) and the Belt and Road initiative by aligning the Belt and Road initiative with the Yangtze River Economic Belt and the economic integration of the YRD and supporting the transformation and upgrading of international investment, international trade and international shipping with international financial innovation in the lead.

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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