China today approved plans to set up three new free trade zones and announced measures to improve the Shanghai FTZ, as part of a trial programme intended to pave the way for ramping up growth of its slowing economy.
The new FTZs in Guangdong and Fujian provinces in the south and the northern municipality of Tianjin were planned for several months but was officially approved today.
FTZs are important for exploring new paths and acquiring new experiences, the ruling Communist Party Politburo, which, approved the plan said in a statement.
The new free trade zones will copy the model of the Shanghai FTZ established in 2013.
The Shanghai FTZ has made “positive progress” over more than a year, generating a model that can be replicated elsewhere, it said.
However, the Shanghai FTZ has so far failed to convince many foreign companies that it has ushered in an era of more liberalised investment rules, according to an annual survey of more than 370 members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai released this month.
The new FTZs were expected to help the ‘Made in China’ campaign launched by the Chinese government, as part of new reforms to spur growth of the world’s second largest economy.
China’s GDP expanded 7.4 per cent last year, the lowest since 1990. The annual economic growth target for 2015 was set at around 7 per cent, roughly half a percentage point lower than last year.
Its manufacturing activity in March too fell to an 11-month low as the world’s second largest economy continued to slowdown, causing global concerns and putting pressure on the government to further ease the monetary policy.
The new zones, as well as the Shanghai FTZ, will continue working for institutional innovation, state-run Xinhua reported citing the statement.
The FTZs are part of a new, more open economic system, exploring new models for regional economic cooperation, and establishing a law-based climate for business and commerce, the statement said.