Officials working on several innovative measures to boost business within the region
Efforts are well underway to create even closer economic ties between China (Guangdong) Pilot Free Trade Zone, and Hong Kong and Macao.
"Cooperation with Hong Kong and Macao has always been what distinguishes Guangdong free trade zone from China's three other free trade zones," said He Li, deputy director of the Guangdong sub-administration of China Customs.
"To continue to play this card well, we are ensuring the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, or CEPA, is put firmly in place.
"The drafters of Guangdong free trade zone's development plans are putting a great deal of thought into fixing any problems that exist, using a series of innovative measures," he said.
Under the CEPA, the Guangdong free trade zone is pursuing cooperation with its nearest neighbors on various fronts and further loosening conditions for new investors from the two special administrative regions, according to blueprints released by the provincial government on Monday.
A highlight of the new preferential policies is that Hong Kong and Macao shipping-industry investors will now be able to establish sole proprietorships in the trade zone, said Liu Xiaohua, deputy director of the provincial bureau of transport.
According to current pilot policies released by the Ministry of Transport, foreign investors are already allowed to establish sole proprietorships for shipping operations in Shanghai free trade zone, while Hong Kong and Macao investors are only granted preferential treatment in the Guangdong zone.
Overseas shipping-industry investors in the Tianjin and Fujian free trade zones do not have any such benefits, but the 49-percent cap on foreign ownership of joint ventures has been removed in all four zones.
"We have launched many measures to facilitate more trade in goods and services with Hong Kong and Macao under the CEPA, and that will remain our priority in future," said He.
Guangdong's customs administration is credited with launching various innovative policies aimed at speeding up the shipment of goods through the Guangdong free trade zone's Nansha Port, which officials hope will help the port become a leading international shipping, logistics and trade hub as a result.
Freighters, for example, are already allowed to declare their goods after entering the bonded area at the port, which can cut customs-clearance time from two to three days to just one day.
Guangdong free trade zone was established on April 21 this year.
By the end of June, at least 11,000 enterprises had already set up operations there, according to Zheng Jianrong, the director of its administrative office.
Of those, 10,600 are domestically funded with total registered capital of about 400 billion yuan ($64 billion). There are 464 foreign-invested businesses with capital investment worth about $1.3 billion.