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Buzz among foreign investors and local islanders over national FTP plan

By YUAN SHENGGAO China Daily Updated: 2020-06-11

The recent release of a master plan by Chinese authorities to build the world's largest free trade port in Hainan has generated great expectations among people in and outside the tropical island.

Meanwhile, the accelerated construction of planned projects is reaching almost all corners of the province's cities and towns, which are recovering from the COVID-19 outbreak.

Like many other young, savvy shoppers, Xiao Mi from Taiyuan, capital of Shanxi province, is excited by the new offshore duty-free shopping policy that raises the per person quota per year from 30,000 yuan to 100,000 yuan ($4,240 to $14,130) and expands the categories of brand items.

Andrew Morton from Stockport, the United Kingdom, is starting a teaching job at the new Harrow School in Haikou, capital city of Hainan province.

He said he was happy that the plan promises more convenient visa-free entry rules, lower tax on personal income and other opportunities and benefits that will attract more foreigners to tour or work in Hainan FTP.

The plan has unveiled a slew of favorable policies competitive with those of Hong Kong, Dubai and Singapore.

"I was amazed to read about so many new policies to be implemented in Hainan supported by the central government. Comprising beneficial policies in various sectors such as aviation, culture, finance, tourism, and technology, all the new policies are related to our core business," said Yuval Golan, CEO of Unique 1 Asia, which operates an office in Haikou.

Staff with the Hainan Provincial Bureau of International Economic Development, which was established in April 2019 to promote investment and provide quality services for international companies, has been busy offering counsel. Their telephones have been ringing off the hook since June 1.

"We received more than 500 calls from overseas in the past week, with callers having strong intentions over investment in Hainan. Their concerns include new policies in such fields as securities, insurance, overseas equity investment, new energy vehicles, medical healthcare, shipping, environmental protection science and tech, cross-border e-commerce and many others," said an official with the bureau.

In just one week, growing businesses have responded with swift actions to enjoy early results.

For example, a 6,200-metric-ton vessel with China COSCO Shipping became the first registered ship at Yangpu Port of China on June 1, the same day the master plan was released granting ships registered at Yangpu the privilege of an export tax rebate.

A large number of domestic shipping companies are expected to follow suit and register their ships at Yangpu Port of China to access the benefits, said experts.

On June 3, 11 key industrial parks were unveiled on the island. The industrial parks are important areas to demonstrate trade and investment policies, pilot fields in bold trials, innovations and reforms, and a new highland for reform and opening-up, said Liu Cigui, Party secretary of Hainan.

 

Liu said the key industrial parks, designed to highlight three major fields-tourism, modern services and advanced technologies-are expected to play a leading role in the construction of the free trade port.

A development focus on modern services, high technologies and tourism has drawn a number of the world's top enterprises and industry leaders to invest in Hainan. They include Temasek, SOSV and Deloitte, PWC and KPMG.

Data from the Hainan Provincial Department of Commerce showed that 448 foreign-funded enterprises have settled in Hainan since 2019. Covering trade, investment, medicine and logistics, the actual use of foreign capital has reached more than $1.8 billion to date.

Over the past two years, the province has made solid progress in developing a world-class legal system and business environment, institutional innovation and deployed major risk prevention and control measures.

The move has boosted confidence in all sectors and laid a sound foundation for accelerating the construction of the Hainan FTP, according to officials with the provincial government.

In the past two years, Hainan has begun constructing 893 projects, with investment hitting 484.1 billion yuan. Most of the projects cover new and high-tech industries, ecological restoration, low-carbon manufacturing and infrastructure upgrading.