King & Wood Mallesons

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China (finally) opens for business: Shanghai free-trade zone launches

On 29 September 2013, China officially launched a free-trade zone (FTZ) in Shanghai, the first of its kind in mainland China. Early indications are that it will liberalise foreign investment into China, particularly in the financial services sector and not just in Shanghai, given that the FTZ is part of a wider scheme for economic reform across China.

The FTZ promises to further open up 18 different services sectors to foreign investment. The services sectors that will benefit include entertainment, education, medical services, employment agencies, gaming devices, shipping, insurance, design and construction, and banking. Published by the State Council, the General Scheme for China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone outlines the main objective of the FTZ — to further open up the financial services sector and improve financial innovation within the FTZ. For an initial trial period of three years, certain laws that restrict foreign investment will be suspended. According to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, the FTZ is a response to global economic and trade development and part of China’s efforts to embark on a more proactive opening-up strategy.

The FTZ comprises four non-contiguous parts of Shanghai’s Pudong New Area: Waigaoqiao free-trade logistics park; Waigaoqiao free-trade zone (an existing bonded zone); Pudong Airport Comprehensive free-trade zone; and Yangshan free-trade port area…

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