Hainan eyes bigger role in nation's opening-up

Print China Daily Updated: 2024-04-12

Construction of the Hainan Free Trade Port is gathering momentum, said a top official of Hainan province.

Liu Xiaoming, the governor of Hainan, said on Thursday at a news conference in Beijing that the province is accelerating preparations for independent customs operations in 2025 while taking steps to promote socioeconomic development, seeking to position itself at the forefront of China's high-level opening-up.

With the sixth anniversary of President Xi Jinping's announcement of establishing the Hainan FTP falling on Saturday, Liu said, "Over the past years, we have been promoting high-level opening-up to serve China's development strategies and drive Hainan's high-quality development."

Last year, many of the province's socioeconomic indicators outpaced national averages. For example, trade in goods rose 15.3 percent, while trade in services soared 29.6 percent. Hainan's imports accounted for about two-thirds of the province's foreign trade, and its outbound direct investment surged 104.9 percent year-on-year.

Hainan has put in place a free trade port policy system featuring "facilitation and liberalization for the flow of trade, investment, cross-border capital, personnel and transportation, and the secure and orderly flow of data", Liu said.

The incentives brought by the policy system have spurred a rapid surge in investment interest, making Hai­nan a hot spot for business ventures, he said.

Foreign investment in Hainan has been on the rise, with the number of newly established foreign-funded enterprises in the province growing at an average annual rate of 65 percent since 2018, he said. There are currently 6,543 foreign-funded enterprises operating in the province, he added.

The establishment of the policy system and the construction of the Hainan Free Trade Port have also yielded tangible benefits for businesses and residents alike.

The implementation of the zero-tariff policy for the import of raw materials, vehicles, yachts and self-use production equipment has resulted in a cumulative import value of 20.2 billion yuan ($2.8 billion), with the value of tax reduction and exemption amounting to 3.81 billion yuan.

In 2023, the number of offshore duty-free shoppers surged 59.9 percent, while the value of their purchases increased 25.4 percent.
Hainan is now spearheading a series of high-standard economic and trade rules.

"By leveraging the complementary advantages of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and the FTP policy, we have piloted high-standard international economic and trade rules, and launched a series of innovative measures encompassing trade in services, digital trade, intellectual property protection and cross-border data flow," Liu said.

The province also plays an increasingly significant role in linking the global transportation network. It ranks second among China's provincial-level regions for the registered tonnage of international sailing ships, and more international flights are making stopovers in the province to load passengers and goods.

At the news conference on Thursday, Guan Jirong, deputy secretary-general of the Communist Party of China Hainan Provincial Committee and executive deputy director of the Office of the Hainan Free Trade Port Working Committee, said, "We expect a continuous expansion of airline routes from Hainan to other parts of the world, resulting in heightened global accessibility from the region."

Liu, the governor, said Hainan is committed to maximizing the potential of the free trade port as a comprehensive pilot platform for reform and opening-up.

"We have introduced a range of integrated institutional innovations that are not only influential but also groundbreaking in the realm of reform and opening-up. We have also taken the lead in aligning with high-standard international economic and trade rules, and conducted thorough stress tests of the independent customs operations to enhance FTP policies and amplify their impact," he added.

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