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Pilot Free Trade Zones Reforms Approved for China-wide Implementation

Many of the reforms trialed in the country’s Pilot Free Trade Zones are to be rolled out on a national basis, with the State Council calling on the relevant government departments to prioritise their implementation.  

Overall, the reforms focus on two particular sectors – Services and Investment Management – with the key changes highlighted below:


The scope of Mainland law firms operated in association with Hong Kong/Macau counterparts in the form of partnership is to be enhanced.

  • In the case of international maritime operators, greater opening-up is to be encouraged with regard to transport, management and shipping agency services. Similarly, the operators of maritime cargo-handling services, container yards and storage yards will also be free to work more closely with overseas businesses, while developing their own internationalisation strategies

Investment Management

  • The processing of three essential shipping certificates – Ship’s Nationality, Minimum Safe Manning and Insurance or Other Financial Security with Respect to Bunker Oil Pollution Damage Liability – is to be integrated
  • The international shipping registration process is to be revised
  • Integrated record filing is to be introduced for foreign trade operators and country-of-origin-related businesses
  • Streamlined administrative approval will apply in the case of certain low-risk biological pharmaceutical products
  • General taxpayers given the facility for online VAT registration
  • One Business, One Licence policy to be introduced for manufacturers of industrial products

For further details (in Chinese), please visit the following link:

Circular of the State Council on Effectively Working on the Fourth Round of Replicating and Promoting the Reform Experience of the Pilot Free Trade Zones (Guo Fa No. 12 [2018])

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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