East China's Fujian province has been speeding up efforts to develop its free trade zone by introducing international-standard rules and fostering innovation in new industries, an NPC deputy said.
An employee parks an imported car in Fujian FTZ's Xiamen port. (Photo: Xinhua)
Fujian established its pilot FTZ in April 2015. The coastal province is also a core area for the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road under the Belt and Road Initiative.
Huang Maoxing, a deputy to the 13th National People's Congress, said more measures are expected in Fujian to enable the province to better play the dual role, and support the local economy.
Huang, who is also director of the FTZ research center at Fujian Normal University, said the coastal province has striven to take the lead in learning about international investment and trade rules, and forming a legal, international, and convenient business environment.
"The move can help fuel innovation in the free trade zone, and further open up the area to countries and regions along the Maritime Silk Road," he said.
Huang said the province is also continuing to cultivate new industries, and use various platforms－such as the cross-border e-commerce pilot zone and the China-Europe freight train service offered by the province's Xiamen city－to facilitate industrial cooperation between Fujian and Belt and Road economies.
Huang added that Fujian has been exploring innovations in opening up the finance sector in the FTZ, while enhancing awareness of financial supervision and risk prevention.
A total of 12 pilot FTZs have appeared in the country in the past five years, from the coastal provinces of Fujian and Guangdong to the inland provinces of Shaanxi and Sichuan in the west.
This year, China will grant greater autonomy to pilot FTZs to carry out reform and innovation, according to the Government Work Report delivered at the second session of the 13th NPC.
The country will shorten the negative list on market entry, and continue to carry out test programs for further opening-up in free trade zones, Ning Jizhe, vice-minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, said at a news conference last week.
Huang said: "Fujian will strive to attract a large number of high-level managerial and legal talents who understand international rules for FTZ construction.
"Those talents will also help deepen the Belt and Road Initiative. They will play a greater role in boosting Fujian's socioeconomic development."
According to Huang, since its establishment the Fujian FTZ has attracted 75,000 companies, 4.9 percent of which are foreign-invested enterprises. Bilateral trade with economies along the Maritime Silk Road reached 394.6 billion yuan ($58.70 billion) last year, an increase of nearly 11 percent year-on-year.