SHANGHAI (AFP) – China on Monday hailed the one-year anniversary of its first free-trade zone (FTZ), but foreign companies expressed disappointment over the pace of pledged reforms as they await real business opportunities.
When the FTZ was set up in China’s commercial hub Shanghai, officials promised a range of financial reforms, including full convertibility of the yuan currency and freer interest rates – both of which remain unfulfilled.
Authorities shook up the zone’s management, removing Communist Party chief and executive deputy director Dai Haibo just two weeks before the anniversary without giving a reason, after media reports he was under a cloud for alleged corruption.
In recent days, a flurry of activity has surrounded the zone.
Earlier in September, China launched a gold market in the FTZ and Premier Li Keqiang gave his stamp of approval on a visit.
Photo shows workers packing goods at a warehouse of TSLP at the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade zone on Sept 24. China on Monday hailed the one-year anniversary of its first free-trade zone, but foreign companies expressed disappointment over the pace of pledged reforms as they await real business opportunities – AFP
And on Monday US technology giant Microsoft launched its Xbox One in China – made possible by a new policy for the FTZ.
“The results of the reforms in the pilot FTZ in the first year are better than expected,” Shanghai’s Communist Party chief Han Zheng told state media in a lengthy interview carried by major newspapers Monday.
“It’s a major step to further promote reform and opening-up under the new scenario.”
But foreign company executives say privately they are disappointed, while publicly many say they are still waiting to see what opportunities might arise.
Some 12,266 companies had registered in the zone by mid-September but only 13.7 per cent, or 1,677, were overseas firms, according to official figures.