SHANGHAI - A Sino-British joint venture will soon begin
outbound tourism business for Chinese tourists in the Shanghai Free
Trade Zone (SFTZ).
Registered in the FTZ in 2015 by Thomas Cook Group and Shanghai's
Fosun International, Fosun Tourism and Culture Group is one of the
beneficiaries of fine-tuning to some laws and regulations in China's
FTZs to further opening-up and reform.
Eleven regulations including those on ship registration, urban rail
transit and foreign investment are to be temporarily adjusted, according
to a State Council decision.
One regulation specifically deals with foreign investment in tourism.
Joint ventures registered in the zones are now allowed directly into
outbound tourism for Chinese residents. Previous regulations meant joint
ventures had to work with local travel agencies on outbound tourism,
but could apply for a their own license after two years.
Xu Bingbin, vice-president of the group, said his firm has various
products for Chinese tourists, and since the change to regulations,
revenue is expected to increase tenfold this year.
"The alteration of these laws and regulations will further the
opening up of China's free trade zones," said Ren Yibiao, general
manager of the National Base for International Culture Trade (Shanghai).
The changes are also good for FTZ businesses involved in shipping,
agriculture, aerospace and urban rail transit.
As of October 2017, nearly 18,000 firms were registered in the SFTZ,
double the number in the four previous bonded zones when they merged in
September 2013. In the first three quarters 2017, foreign trade in the
zone rose 16.2 percent year-on-year to $150 billion.
The SFTZ was launched to trial streamlined business registration.
Companies can register and be operational in the zone in three working
days, considerably less than the previous 40.
In 2014, three more FTZs opened in Tianjin Municipality, and the
provinces of Guangdong and Fujian. A third batch of seven more went
online in August 2016.
As structural reform breeds innovation-driven growth, these zones
have become attractive to investors and contributed to policy innovation
and opening up in industry, finance and other sectors.
In January 2017, the central government announced more measures to
attract foreign investment through easier access and a better business
environment. Foreign firms already face fewer restrictions in the
manufacturing, mining and services sectors.
"The trials in the FTZs set an example for economic reform and opening up nationwide," said Ren.