Shortened list not necessarily better
Last Updated: 2014-05-13 03:42 | Global Times
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The Shanghai Free Trade Zone's "negative list" is reportedly set for major reforms this year. The list, which identifies areas which are off-limits or open with restrictions to investors, could be shortened by some 20 percent in its upcoming 2014 edition. But is shorter really better?

Reducing the zone's negative list presents many difficulties, chief among them being those stemming from complex legal and regulatory issues. If the list is cut without first altering related rules, the government could find itself in difficulty if this opens the door to more lawsuits and legal disputes between officials and businesses. But in order to alter the rules, authorities in charge of the zone will have to go through lengthy negotiations with the National People's Congress and the country's central ministries.

There is another question worth discussing: is it worth it to shorten the list? Such lists are often used as negotiating tools in bilateral investment treaties. A dramatic shortening could result in China playing its top cards too early, a mistake which could hurt the country's trade interests.

The authors are He Xinrong and Wei Zongkai, media personalities.

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