Coordination to focus on implementing strategies to unleash regional potential
China will seek better coordination among the various free trade zones as their closer cooperation will provide strong impetus for economic development, experts and government officials said on Monday.
The China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone is joining hands with the pilot FTZs in Zhejiang, Anhui and Jiangsu provinces, to jointly design coordinated development patterns that will further contribute to the integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta region, said Zhang Chao, deputy head of the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone Administration.
Zhang made the remarks on Monday at an event organized by the Beijing-based Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation to release a new report on the development of China's FTZs.
"We plan to have effective coordination on institutional innovation, function extension, and industrial development among the four FTZs in the Yangtze River Delta region. Better coordination will enable the FTZs to play a key role in implementing national strategies to coordinate regional development and unleash potential," said Zhang.
In September, China announced the establishment of a new pilot FTZ in Anhui province and the expansion of the existing pilot FTZ in Zhejiang, along with two new pilot FTZs in Beijing and Hunan province.
With this, the number of FTZs in China has risen to 21. The three provinces and one directly-administered municipality in the Yangtze River Delta now have FTZs, as the country seeks a higher level of opening-up and new momentum for regional development in the area.
Covering a 358,000-square kilometer expanse, the Yangtze River Delta, consisting of Shanghai and the provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui, is one of the most populated and urbanized city clusters in China, according to Xinhua News Agency.
The new pilot FTZ in Anhui focuses on the in-depth integration of scientific and technological innovation and high-end manufacturing, and the added area of the FTZ in Zhejiang aims to build a new type of international trade center and a global shipping and logistics hub.
Zhang Wei, deputy head of the CAITEC, which is an affiliate of the Ministry of Commerce, said FTZs have been playing an important role in China's regional development, and are set to intensify cooperation with each other for the high-quality development of the Chinese economy during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25).
The Communist Party of China Central Committee's proposals for formulating the 14th Five Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035, unveiled last month, also called for efforts to promote coordinated regional development, including the integration of the Yangtze River Delta.
Zhang from the CAITEC said free trade zones have differentiated development focuses and advantages, and as their total number has increased, it is natural for those in the same region to leverage on each other's advantages to coordinate development and promote innovation.
Coordination among FTZs is critical for the further development of the zones and the overall economy, she said.
"Regional economic integration is a new feature of the development of the Chinese economy, and FTZs are important pillars for regional economic development," said Zhang.