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Stock link bid for HK, Shenzhen

2015-01-06 13:18:46Source:China DailyAuthor:

Move designed to integrate Guangdong with China's two SARs

China is considering a stock trading link program to allow Hong Kong and Shenzhen investors to buy and sell shares on each city's bourse.

The move is part of efforts to integrate Guangdong province, the mainland's reform front-runner, with the country's two special administrative regions.

Experts said the proposal, a key step in building the Guangdong Free Trade Zone, will further promote China's financial openness, following the launch of the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect in November.

Premier Li Keqiang made the announcement on Monday during a visit to Nansha New Area, one of the three areas in the Guangdong FTZ.

"One reason the central government approved the Guangdong FTZ is the geographic proximity to Hong Kong and Macao," he said.

"So the first step in building the FTZ is to deepen integration with the two special administrative regions, where the two sides can well complement each other, especially in the trade of services."

Zhu Xiaodan, the Guangdong governor, proposed issuing a list of areas off limits to foreign investors, as the Shanghai FTZ currently does. He will also issue a shorter list with fewer restrictions on Hong Kong and Macao investors.

The proposed Guangdong Free Trade Zone is modeled on Shanghai's pilot FTZ.

It is expected to be more open and closely connected with Hong Kong and Macao, especially through the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, a pact aimed at building closer economic ties between the three areas.

The Guangdong zone, covering 116.2 square kilometers, includes Qianhai and Shekou Industrial Zone in Shenzhen, Hengqin in Zhuhai and Nansha in Guangzhou.

Li said reforms and opening-up do not equate to high-rises and metropolises, but rather to the talent and services inside the buildings.

Zhu said the Guangdong FTZ will mark the boundaries between regulatory power and the market, clarify the government's responsibilities and its legitimate supervisory area.

"As the starting point of China's ancient Silk Road, Guangdong aims to become an important transportation hub for the country's proposal to build a maritime silk road linking Southeast Asian countries with the northern part of China," he said.

Tang Shiqi, a professor at Beijing Normal University in Zhuhai, suggested the three areas of the Guangdong FTZ should maintain a different focus during its development.

Qianhai Cooperation Zone should continue to focus on the development of the high-end services industry, while Hengqin should mainly cover tourism, commercial services and high-tech industries. Nansha, the largest area in the zone, should upgrade its port facilities and promote manufacturing industries, he said.

Pan Zhihong, deputy head of the China Society of Economic Reform Journal Agency, said Li's visit pushed governments to implement the reform policies hammered out by the central government last year, as 2015 will be key to the full operation of these reforms.

China to ease investment rules in Free Trade Zones

The Chinese government has been authorized to ease investment rules in three new free trade zones (FTZs) after top legislature gave the go ahead during a bi-monthly meeting on Dec 28.

The new zones will be located in South China's Guangdong province, Southeast China's Fujian province and North China's Tianjin. The only FTZ currently operating is in Shanghai.

The resolution on temporary adjustment of regulations for administrative approvals in the new FTZs was passed through a vote at the bi-monthly session of the National People's Congress Standing Committee.

According to the resolution, foreign companies will not need government approvals to set up ventures in these FTZs, shut down and merge ventures or change their business purpose. Instead, they will only need to report business plans to the authorities.

These preferential policies conflict with 12 articles out of four laws on foreign companies, Sino-foreign joint ventures and Taiwan investors so the legislature authorized the State Council to adjust the implementation in the FTZs.

The temporary adjustment will begin in March next year and will last for three years, according to the resolution.

After three years, the State Council will run an assessment on the adjustment and decide whether to propose a law revision or return to the original regulations.

Earlier this month, the State Council announce that China will establish three new FTZs and expand the Shanghai FTZ, in an attempt to reform the administrative system and improve the market environment.

Since the launch of the Shanghai FTZ in September 2013, the government has used it to test a number of new policies including negative list management on foreign investment, preferential trade and financial policies, and opening up more industries to foreign investors.

"The practice [in Shanghai FTZ] can be copied and applied elsewhere," said Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng, when explaining the draft resolution on behalf of the State Council to lawmakers on Friday.

Through the expansion of the Shanghai FTZ and the addition of new zones, reform policies can be tested in a larger geographic area and on a bigger scale, he said.

According to the resolution, the Guangdong FTZ, with a total area of 116.2 square km, will include zones in the cities of Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Zhuhai.

The Tianjin FTZ, with a total area of 119.9 square km, will consist of three sections around the Tianjin Port, Tianjin Airport and the Binhai New Area industrial park.

The Fujian FTZ, with a total area of 118.04 square km, will include industrial areas in the provincial capital of Fuzhou, the city of Xiamen, and Pingtan, a new industrial park targeting Taiwan investment.

An area of 91.94 square km will also be added to the Shanghai FTZ.