China weighs free port strategy

China weighs free port strategy

Under a new blueprint being considered by China, some bonded areas at ports will become full free ports allowed to trade freely with the rest of the world, while others will be designated export processing or technology development regions.

Long Guo-qiang of the State Council's Development Research Center said initial plans for the changes have been drawn up and will be submitted for approval by the council, the supreme governing body.

International hubs Shanghai, Shenzhen and Xiamen have also expressed interest in becoming free ports.

Long said areas that have the potential to attract international trade should operate under a separate free-port policy as a means to help China develop more international hubs.

He didn't mention any changes to current incentives, such as tax breaks or rebates and waivers of many regulations.

Those measures helped to spur the original experiment in freer trade and investment known as special economic zones, now boom centers that are attracting huge overseas investment. Shenzhen, adjacent to Hong Kong, was the first; Xiamen in southeastern Fujian province and closest point to Taiwan is another.

Long said China needs new policies to help Chinese ports develop. These should ensure free movement of international cargo - especially transshipments from elsewhere in China and from other countries.

He said he would press for efficient monitoring of cargo by customs, free exchange of currency and greater freedom for companies to set up business.