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Fujian a 'dark horse' in FTZ application, says insider
Updated: 2014-11-25

Fujian province will likely amaze society by making it into the second batch of China's free trade zone (FTZ) areas, the Shanghai Securities News reported on Nov 21, citing insiders.

Speculation that the country's authorities will soon announce the second list of FTZ got off the ground following a Nov 19 article by Zhong Damu, deputy director of the Fujian Department of Commerce in Fujian Daily that shed a little light on the progress.

Zhong claimed that Fujian will spare no effort in accelerating the preparation work in order to obtain the State Council's approval of FTZ status for Fujian.

The article also revealed that Chinese President Xi Jinping had issued an announcement on the expansion of free trade pilot parks in Fujian, Guangdong and Tianjin, during the 2014 APEC meeting earlier this month.

Shanghai became the first pilot FTZ on Aug 22 last year, with an area of 28.78 sq kilometers.

An insider told the newspaper that the second batch of FTZ areas is likely to overtake the "pilot" because they will have different functions from the Shanghai FTZ.

"The (new) FTZs will mainly play a role in economic development rather than be responsible for comprehensive reforms. In addition, they will have much more freedom in industrial and taxation policies, with much less administration," said the source.

The biggest advantage that Fujian has in its FTZ application is its proximity to Taiwan, which makes it a dark horse in the FTZ race, the newspaper commented.

The Pingtan Comprehensive Pilot Zone in eastern Fujian attracted a lot of attention following President Xi Jinping's inspection in early Nov and the release of new regulations on foreign exchange administration.

Pingtan is the first experimental area on the Chinese mainland to open to Taiwan, which is only 68 kilometers away.

In a government conference in Xiamen city in February, Zhang Canmin, vice mayor of Xiamen, disclosed for the first time that Xiamen will co-apply for the "Haixi (Western Taiwan Straits) FTZ" together with Fuzhou and Pingtan.

Once the Haixia FTZ is green lighted, the three places will elevate their brand value, leading to bigger inflows of capital and logistics and attracting more professionals, said an analyst with Guangfa Securities.

Fujian has made it clear that a future FTZ, if granted, will focus on cross-Straits economy and trade, and building a front platform of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

Fujian will take advantage of its FTZ to increase communication and cooperation with countries along the Road, said Zhong in the article.

The Road initiative was proposed by President Xi in 2013 in a bid to enhance economic and trade cooperation between China and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) members