China Approves 12 More Free Trade Zones

China’s central government has given the nod to 12 more free trade zones (FTZs) just three months after the first of the new zones was approved in Shanghai, as investors have speculated on the opportunities that might pop up in the more liberalised areas and the Chinese government looks for a way to replace the capital inflows lost from the slackening interest in manufacturing.

According to a statement in Xinhua, Tianjin and Guangdong have been approved by the government to set up FTZs, and the zones are expected to launch this year. The remaining ten locations have not yet been named.

Other possible FTZ locations mentioned were Zhejiang’s Zhoushan islands, the port city of Qingdao, Chengdu in southwestern China, Wuhan and Hangzhou.

Since the Shanghai free trade zone was announced, authorities in Guangdong and Hong Kong have lobbied to gain FTZ status for Guangdong, so that the Pearl River delta area could capitalise on Hong Kong’s status as a services hub and jointly fight off potential competition from Shanghai.

Xinhua quoted an unnamed government source as saying, “After consent from the cabinet, a group of central government departments will conduct a joint survey of the proposed zones, and hammer out specific establishment plans in a process that may last more than a year.”