China may ease investment rules in three-planned free trade zones (FTZs) in south China's Guangdong Province, southeast China's Fujian Province and north China's Tianjin Municipality as well as the already-established Shanghai FTZ, pending approval by the legislature.
The National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee will debate the State Council's proposal to temporarily adjust regulations on administrative approvals in the FTZs.
The State Council plans to remove the administrative approval for foreign companies that want to set up ventures in these FTZs, said the commerce minister, Gao Hucheng, when explaining the bill to lawmakers.
In addition, they will not need government approval to shut down ventures or change business purpose. Instead, these companies will only need to report business plans to the authorities, Gao said.
Since these preferential policies conflict with current laws on foreign companies, Sino-foreign joint ventures and Taiwan investors, the State Council will ask for the legislature's authorization to adjust the implementation of 12 articles out of four laws in the FTZs, he said.
The temporary adjustment is expected to begin in March next year and will last for three years, Gao said.
After three years, the State Council will run an assessment on the adjustment and decide whether to propose for a law revision or return to the original regulations, he said.
Earlier this month, the State Council announced, China will establish three new FTZs and expand the Shanghai FTZ, in an attempt to reform the administrative system and improve the market environment.
Since the launch of the Shanghai FTZ in September 2013, the government has used it to test a number of new policies including negative list management on foreign investment; preferential trade and financial policies; and opening up more industries to foreign investors.
"The practice [in Shanghai FTZ] can be copied and applied elsewhere," Gao said.
Through the expansion of the Shanghai FTZ and the addition of new zones, reform policies can be tested in a larger geographic area and on a bigger scale, he said.
According to the bill, the Guangdong FTZ will include zones in the cities of Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Zhuhai.
The Tianjin FTZ will consist of three sections around the Tianjin Port, Tianjin Airport and the Binhai New Area industrial park.
The Fujian FTZ will include industrial areas in the provincial capital of Fuzhou, the city of Xiamen, and Pingtan, a new industrial park targeting Taiwan investment.