[Gao Feng]: Dear friends from the media, good morning! Welcome to the online press conference of the Ministry of Commerce.
As you know, in April 2017, seven pilot free trade zones including Liaoning, Zhejiang, Henan, Hubei, Chongqing, Sichuan, and Shaanxi were put into operation. Over the past three years, the seven pilot free trade zones have carried out in-depth institutional innovation, which has made the layout of national reform pilots more balanced, the institutional innovation more systematic, and differentiated explorations more abundant. To help you better understand the relevant situation and respond to your concerns, today we have invited Mr. Tang Wenhong, Director of the Department of Pilot Free Trade Zone and Free Trade Port of the Ministry of Commerce, Mr. Song Yanlin, Director of the Free Trade Office and the Department of Commerce of Liaoning Province, Mr. Zhu Jun, Deputy Director of the Free Trade Office and Chief Economist of the Department of Commerce of Zhejiang Province, Mr. Ma Jian, Director of the Free Trade Office and the Department of Commerce of Henan Province, Mr. Chen Huarong, member of the Party Leadership Group and Deputy Director of the Department of Commerce of Hubei Province, Mr. Song Gang, member of the Party Leadership Group and Deputy Director of the Commission of Commerce of Chongqing, Mr. Deng Dexiong, Deputy Director of the Free Trade Office of Sichuan Province, and Mr. Zhai Beiqin, Deputy Director of the Free Trade Office and member of the Party Leadership Group of the Department of Commerce of Shaanxi province to introduced the situation. I am Gao Feng, host of today’s press conference, Deputy Director of the General Office and spokesperson of the Ministry of Commerce.?
Today, Mr. Tang Wenhong will first introduce to you the relevant information of the third anniversary of the establishment of the free trade pilot zones including Liaoning. Afterwards, the 8 speakers will answer questions raised by friends from the media. Now I will give the floor to Mr. Tang Wenhong.
[Tang Wenhong]: Hello, everyone! Thank you very much for your constant concern in the work of the pilot free trade zones, and I am very glad to participate in today's online press conference and together with the colleagues from seven pilot free trade zones including Liaoning, Zhejiang, Henan, Hubei, Chongqing, Sichuan, and Shaanxi, share with you the construction in the past three years.?
In the past three years, seven pilot free trade zones thoroughly implemented the deployment of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, and carried out in-depth institutional innovation around strategic position and development goals. 1055 pilot tasks determined by seven master plans have been basically implemented, effectively integrating into and serving national strategies. Comparative tests and complementary tests have achieved progress, and preliminary formed the pilot patterns with different characteristics and emphasis. 137 achievements of institutional innovations have been replicated and promoted to the whole country, and achieved the expected goals, highlighted in the following aspects.
In coordinating epidemic prevention and control in tandem with the resumption of work and production of enterprises, the 7 pilot free trade zones fully took the advantages of the pilot reforms in institutional innovation, took targeted measures to solve the difficulties faced by enterprises, and effectively played a demonstrating and guiding role. They actively introduced supportive policies, established contact mechanism of key enterprise, opened green channels, used informational means, provided financial support and legal services, and solved enterprises’ difficulties in epidemic prevention, investment attraction, employment, and financing so as to help enterprises resume work and production. For example, the Hubei Pilot Free Trade Zone promoted the facilitation measure for medical device that "commitment means production", reducing the time for approval and filing of medical devices, and fully supporting capable enterprises to switch the production lines to produce epidemic prevention materials; Henan Pilot Free Trade Zone organized activities such as the "Online Investment Attraction Week" and the "Bank-Enterprise Matchmaking Meeting" to help companies get resources and implement key projects and funds. Zhejiang Pilot Free Trade Zone precisely connected provinces with large export of migrant workers such as Anhui and Sichuan, strengthened service guarantees, and recruited and picked up migrant workers through chartered flights and vehicles; Shaanxi and Sichuan Pilot Free Trade Zones transported anti-epidemic materials through CHINA RAILWAY Express to open up an anti-epidemic lifeline, for example, the "Chang'an" CHINA RAILWAY Express opened 649 trains in the first quarter, 2.4 times as many as the same period last year. Up to now, the work-resumption rate of enterprises above designated size in the 7 free trade zones has reached 100%, which has made contributions to stabilizing the fundamentals of foreign trade and foreign investment and ensuring the smoothness of supply chains.
In pushing forward the reform of delegating power, improving regulation and upgrading services, the reform of separating operating permits and business licenses with full coverage has been tried out in the seven pilot free trade zones in an orderly manner. At the same time, the seven pilot free trade zones are focusing on key areas such as market access, project construction, port customs clearance, and government services. They have the courage to be the pioneers and to practice bravely, which makes many reform measures in the forefront of the country. For example, the “one-stop” service reform in Zhejiang Pilot Free Trade Zone, the “immediate, online and one-stop” service reform in Hubei Pilot Free Trade Zone, the QR code integrated services for administrative service approval items in Henan Pilot Free Trade Zone, and the licensing through WeChat reform in Shaanxi Pilot Free Trade Zone have greatly reduced the work flow of enterprises and the masses, and enhanced enterprises’ sense of gain. After being replicated and promoted throughout the whole country, these reform practices have become the nationally renowned business card of the pilot free trade zones, and made the relevant reform ideas deeply rooted in the hearts of the people.
With regard to the integration of services into the country's major strategies, the seven pilot free trade zones have combined their geographical and cultural characteristics to promote interconnectivity, and to intensify the opening up of gateway cities in the western region and the opening up and cooperation in Northeast Asia, which has effectively promoted the in-depth implementation of the strategies including the Belt and Road construction, the development of the western region, the rise of the central region and the revitalization of the northeast. For example, Sichuan and Chongqing Pilot Free Trade Zones have further promoted the reform of “one consignment note” system for multimodal transport, and promoted the innovation that rail waybills could function as documents of title, exploring new rules for land trade. Henan Pilot Free Trade Zone has made every effort to build four channels in the air, on the land, at sea and on the Internet, forming new advantages of opening-up channels. Liaoning Pilot Free Trade Zone has continued to promote opening up and cooperation towards the Northeast Asia, with a number of major foreign investment projects such as Panasonic and Toshiba landed, and the "Two Cities and Two Parks" project between China and South Korea successfully promoted. Shaanxi Pilot Free Trade Zone has actively promoted the construction of an international aviation hub and opened the first all-cargo route with the Fifth Freedom in northwest China. The cultural and scientific exchanges with countries along the Belt and Road have been strengthened, and 59 universities in 12 countries have been involved in jointly forming the alliance for the Silk Road agricultural science and technology education innovation.
In terms of cultivating new drivers and new industries, the seven pilot free trade zones, based on their own resource endowments, have focused on the concerns of market entities, and made bold exploration around enterprise management and industrial chain, promoting the continuous aggregation of new industries, new forms and new models. Zhejiang Pilot Free Trade Zone has initially established an internationally competitive oil and gas industrial chain system, and gathered more than 6,000 oil and gas enterprises of various types, making it the region with the highest concentration of oil and gas enterprises in the country. Henan Pilot Free Trade Zone has further promoted the innovation of cross-border e-commerce supervision with the cross-border e-commerce industry developing rapidly. Zhengzhou has become the country's largest cross-border e-commerce trading center for imported cosmetics and health products, accounting for 65% and 50% of the national turnover respectively. Hubei Pilot Free Trade Zone has made great efforts to build agglomeration areas for strategic emerging industries and high-tech industry, and the formation of trillion-level industrial clusters of optoelectronic information and bio-medicine is accelerating. ???
After three years of development, the business environment of the seven pilot free trade zones has been continuously optimized, which has effectively stimulated market vitality and they have become the highland of local reform and opening up. In 2019, a total of 134,000 enterprises were newly set up in the seven pilot free trade zones, maintaining the growth momentum for three consecutive years, realizing 1.13 trillion yuan of import and export of goods, accounting for 17.6% of the total of the provinces and cities where they are located. The actual utilization of foreign investment reached 16.28 billion yuan, accounting for 9.2% of the total of the provinces and cities where the pilot free trade zones are located. At the same time, a number of institutional innovations have been replicated and extended to the whole country, effectively playing the role of an experimental field for reform and opening up. ??
Next, officials from their respective offices will also answer your questions about the construction of their respective pilot free trade zones. That's all for my introduction. Thank you.
China News Service: Just now, you briefed us on the progress attained by the seven pilot free trade zones (pilot FTZs) in institutional innovation, integration with and contribution to national strategies, industrial agglomeration and other areas. Could you summarize the progress of each of these pilot FTZs in one sentence? As China and the rest of the world are faced with the challenges of the pandemic, how will the pilot FTZs better contribute to China’s opening-up? What are their priorities in the next step?
Tang Wenhong: You actually asked three questions. The first is to summarize, with one sentence each, the progress of the pilot FTZs. I would like to do that in the light of how they have achieved their targets set forth in the master plan. Liaoning Pilot FTZ has basically established itself as a “bridgehead” for open cooperation in Northeast Asia, with steady progress in exploring state capital and state-owned enterprise (SOE) reform. Zhejiang Pilot FTZ has become a more capable global allocator of commodities, particularly petroleum products, playing an exemplar role for the institutional reform in China’s oil and gas industries under the new circumstances. Hubei Pilot FTZ hosts industry clusters for integrated circuits, optoelectronics and information, artificial intelligence, biomedicine and new energy vehicles, attracting businesses from around the world, and its development as a high ground for inland opening-up is showing positive results. Strategically characterized as a modern comprehensive and integrated transportation hub serving the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with modern systems for logistics and integrated transportation, Henan Pilot FTZ has made strides in developing a logistics and transportation hub with characteristics of an inland port, presenting itself as major force for the rise of the central region. Located in a gateway city for opening-up in western China, Chongqing Pilot FTZ has leveraged its geographic advantages by serving as a key hinge connecting the BRI and the Yangtze River Economic Belt. Focusing on developing a hub for international channels for openness, Sichuan Pilot FTZ demonstrates innovative institutions, becoming an institutional leader for the development of the western region. Shaanxi Pilot FTZ has become a stage for deeper Belt and Road cooperation, pioneering reform and opening-up in northwestern China.
On your second question: We have noted the recent projections by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the global economy will fall into serious contraction in 2020. Facing complex challenges posed by the pandemic and uncertainties in world economic outlook, no country can stay immune from their impacts. The international community should further enhance cooperation, expand openness and bolster confidence than ever before. The founding purpose of the pilot free trade zones is to, by means of independent opening-up, exhibit our willingness to open ourselves in an all-round manner to the rest of the world and our resolve to uphold trade and investment liberalization and facilitation and to build an open world economy. At this unusual juncture, the pilot FTZs will unremittingly spearhead further opening-up, a certain step to counteract global economic uncertainties. By far, we have been pressing ahead in the following aspects at the same time in the pilot FTZs: firstly, doing our best to resume work and restore and reinforce supply chains as our redoubled effort to put the global supply chain back in place and the global economy in a stable state; secondly, shortening the negative list for foreign investment and optimizing the business environment to boost the confidence of global investors; and thirdly, being the first to implement policies for stable foreign investment and foreign trade growth and to foster overseas-oriented industries, in order to invigorate market entities.
On your third question: The seven pilot FTZs established in 2017 are a link between past experience and future plans, and between the eastern and western regions, which means that their priorities in the next step should be based on the targets of other pilot FTZs, while reflecting the unique characteristics of the seven pilot FTZs. For one thing, in keeping with the instructions of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, the seven pilot FTZs should focus on institutional innovation practices that can be replicated and shared to better experiment steps to deepen the reform and expand opening-up across the board. Together with other pilot FTZs, they should bring such experiments further as liberalizing and facilitating trade and investment, ensuring the financial sector serves the real economy, and transforming the role of the government. They should take new steps in seeking independent, consecutive and larger-scale opening-up and lead institutional opening-up in rules, regulations, management, standards, and more, so as to produce more practices that can be shared and learned by other places nationwide. For another, The seven pilot FTZs should aim high, consider local conditions and reflect distinctive features as they deepen and differentiate their strategic exploration. As we have learned, they have planned out some initial proposals. To name a few, Liaoning Pilot FTZ will take targeted measures for emerging industries in Northeast Asia and open up key areas in modern manufacturing and the service sector; Zhejiang Pilot FTZ will build a world-class international maritime service center; Henan Pilot FTZ will extensively explore an internationalized network combining trade, production and services to become a logistical hub between China and other countries and across eastern, central and western China; Hubei Pilot FTZ will highlight high-end manufacturing, high-end services and new industrial models; Chongqing and Sichuan Pilot FTZs will lead the development of the Chengdu-Chongqing Economic Circle; and Shaanxi Pilot FTZ will deepen reform and opening-up by advancing its hub-based, gateway-based and flow-based economic pattern. Thank you.
The Economic Daily: Hubei is hit hard by the epidemic. What has the Hubei Pilot Free Trade Zone done to fight the virus and organize business reopening in the region and to what effect? How will you further promote strategic emerging and hi-tech industries moving forward?
Chen Huarong: COVID-19 poses unprecedented challenges to people’s life and work in Hubei. Under the unitary deployment of the provincial CPC Committee and government, and MOFCOM’s care and guidance, the Hubei Pilot Free Trade Zone takes vigorous measures to prevent and control the virus and works effectively to resume business and production in an orderly way. The reopen rate of large-scale industrial companies and supporting enterprises for key champions in the region has reached 100%. In particular, Yangtze River Storage Technology, China Star Optoelec Tech, Guide Infrared, BGI Biotechnology and Humanwell Healthcare, among other ‘essential and key’ businesses have kept running throughout the outbreak, holding the front-line against the epidemic.
We have taken the following steps to fight the epidemic and reopen business and production.
First, rigorous management. Under the principle of prioritizing epidemic prevention with businesses taking the lead, industrial parks assuming primary responsibilities, and precision management, localized management responsibilities are carried out in earnest with on-site supervision to address problems in business reopening and ensure effective prevention and control, employee screening, supply of materials and equipment, environmental disinfection and safe production.
Second, strengthened services. We have adopted a tailor-made working mechanism to help businesses procure anti-epidemic supplies and resolve difficulties in employee commuting, board and lodging, healthcare, and recruitment while issuing technical guidelines for epidemic prevention and control to ensure good services.
Third, science- and technology-enabled fight against the epidemic. We support related optoelectric businesses in strengthened R&D, which succeeded in developing several new devices such as the contactless infrared iris recognition thermometer to help the anti-epidemic efforts.
Fourth, multi-pronged approach. We have announced multiple measures to help businesses reopen in cost reduction, burden relief, and financial and industrial support, among others. The FTZ has set up an RMB one billion epidemic relief fund and joined major financial institutions in establishing an emergency re-lending guide fund while cutting policy financing guarantee payment by 30% for medium, small and micro enterprises to alleviate their difficulty in accessing finance and supporting expanded production and exports of medical supplies in the FTZ.
Moving forward, the FTZ will further promote strategic emerging and high-tech industries based on continued reopening of businesses.
First, promoting institutional innovation around key industrial development. We will leverage the pilot advantages of the FTZ and step up institutional innovation and differential exploration to address bottlenecks in the development of key industries, such as optoelectronics, new energy vehicles and bio-pharmaceuticals.
Second, fostering clustered development of strategic emerging and hi-tech industries. We have drawn up related work plans for FTZ industrial development to raise the level of industrial congregation and open economy. Around the key chains, technologies and links of the FTZ’s dominant industries and targeting leading multinationals, we focus on bringing in high-end projects on industrial and supply chains and actively undertake relocated industries from the Yangtze River Delta, the Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao Greater Bay Area and the Jing-Jin-Ji region, to build a demonstration zone for orderly hosting relocated industries in Central China.
Third, improving the organizing assurances for FTZ industrial development. We will fully tap into the coordinating role of the FTZ leading group and hold regular meetings to consider industrial development work to promote the landing of flagship projects. We will implement the Opinions on Piloting Measures to Further Unleash the Vitality of Talent Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Hubei Pilot Free Trade Zone of the Hubei Provincial Government, with a view to driving industrial innovation with science and technology innovation and leading development with the drive of innovation. Thank you.
Economic Information Daily: Most of the FTZs in this batch are in Central and Western China. Three years on, what significant achievements have these FTZs made in promoting China’s inland opening up?
Ma Jian: Over the past three years since the establishment of the Henan Pilot Free Trade Zone, we have abided by Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in the New Era and carefully studied the spirit of the important instructions and directions of President Xi on FTZ development. Under the able leadership of the provincial CPC Committee and government, we have worked to build channels and improve platforms for open-up and deepen reform and innovation so as to accelerate the development of a logistics hub with international influence.
First, a hub-driven economy that connects home and abroad is taking shape. Connectivity by air, land, Internet and sea brings us a new advantage in opening up. The construction of the air Silk Road between Zhengzhou and Luxembourg is progressing with remarkable results. By the end of 2019, Zhengzhou Airport opened 255 routes, including 58 international routes. Both its passenger and cargo and mail throughput ranked first in the central region. The land Silk Road connects Zhengzhou and more than 30 countries with over 30 China-Europe block train services per week, creating an international land corridor between domestic and international markets. The online Silk Road forms a “buy global, sell global” network, instituting the “1210” customs clearance supervision model and scaling it up nationwide. The speed of clearance reaches 500 pieces per second and the average daily processing capacity is 10 million packages.
Second, an open port system to facilitate import and export is put in place at a quicker pace. The Henan Pilot Free Trade Zone has a comprehensive bonded zone, bonded logistics center, functional ports and other open platforms. The pilot program for parallel import of automobiles is steadily progressing. The China-European freight train (Zhengzhou) has piloted operation of mail services. Identity authentication of foreign trade enterprises on the electronic platform is handled in a paperless manner. The “credit visa” is used to issue certificate of origin more efficiently. The online “single window” for export tax rebate is up and running. The “early declaration” customs clearance mode for exports is fully adopted at airports. A series of innovative initiatives have greatly enhanced the level of trade facilitation. Imported seafood and fruits such as tuna and cherries via Henan port in the morning can appear on the dinner table of residents in Beijing and other places.
Third, the achievements of institutional innovations have been accumulated to foster synergy at both levels. Focusing on pioneering exploration, we have instituted the positive regulatory model for cross-border e-commerce retail import, among others. Under the overall promotion of the Ministry of Commerce, the relevant departments have established working mechanisms with Zhengzhou, Kaifeng, and Luoyang to push institutional innovation forward. These areas are leading the country in implementing innovative measures, including synchronized services, fast-track approval, QR code integrated services and enterprises identity authentication.
Going forward, the Henan pilot free trade zone will put into practice the spirit of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s speech during his visit to Henan, draw on the experience of other pilot FTZs, strengthen the coordination and interaction with other national strategic platforms, deepen reform and innovation further, strive to take the lead in fostering new highlights of institutional opening and continue to contribute to greater development of the central region. Thank you.
Zhai Beiqin: The Shaanxi Pilot Free Trade Zone has made significant achievements in expanding economic cooperation with countries along the Belt and Road and creating new modes of people-to-people and cultural exchanges.
First, trade and economic exchanges are getting closer. We have created new connectivity and cooperation mechanisms and sped up the construction of the international air hub and international transport corridor. In 2019, the China-EU block train “Chang’an” transported 1.802 tons of goods with a total of 2,133 trips. In the first quarter of this year, the “Chang’an” transported more than 5,000 kinds of goods, including epidemic prevention supplies by 649 trips, which is 2.4 times the same period last year, contributing to the fight on COVID-19. We have made full use of the Fifth Freedom and added more routes and flights. As of the end of 2019, a total of 88 international routes had been opened, reaching 74 major cities in 36 countries around the world. In 2019, Xi’an Xianyang International Airport cargo and mail throughput exceeded 380,000 tons, up by 20% year-on-year. Thanks to the achievements of innovation including the consolidation of railway transport manifests, the level of trade facilitation has been enhanced. In 2019, the total import and export of goods in the free trade zone amounted to 247.6 billion yuan, accounting for 71% of the province; trade with countries along the Belt and Road increased by 25% to 49.7 billion yuan.
Second, cooperation on production capacity continues to deepen. New models of international production capacity cooperation are explored such as twin parks or one park in two places. In 2019, 91 new foreign-invested enterprises were established in the Shaanxi Pilot Free Trade Zone with paid-in investment of US$1.03 billion, accounting for 70% of the province. Investment in 13 countries along the Belt and Road totaled US$189 million, accounting for 39% of the province. The free trade zone conducts new international cooperation on modern agriculture by launching a demonstration base for agricultural technology exchange and training of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, setting up three overseas agricultural investment promotion service centers in Russia and other countries, and building seven demonstration parks for modern agricultural cooperation in Kazakhstan and other countries. The whole industry chain standardized operation system for agricultural products, first of its kind, is selected as the national best practice case.
Thirdly, strengthened cooperation in science, technology and education. A total of 17 offshore innovation centres have been set up in countries like Israel, and an information Silk Road development alliance was launched. In collaboration with 151 universities from 38 countries, a Silk Road university alliance and a vocational education alliance were established, in addition to running schools abroad on the basis of the “17+1” cooperation platform.
Fourthly, expanded exchanges and cooperation on culture, tourism and health. Platforms for cultural exchange such as the “Silk Road International Expo” and the “Silk Road International Arts Festival” have been created, and Shaanxi Cultural Week (entitled “Guo Feng Qin Yun”) activities were brought to 12 countries (regions). The national base for cultural export, the Silk Road Cultural Exchange Centre, and the Silk Road Archaeological Centre were built, and the bonded display and trading for cultural and artistic products were introduced. Three foreign travel agencies were registered in the pilot free trade zone. Full-time students were enrolled from 15 countries to study traditional Chinese medicine in Shaanxi.
Going forward, the China (Shaanxi) Pilot Free Trade Zone will keep in mind the mission of serving national strategies, continue to strengthen economic cooperation and people-to-people exchanges with the BRI countries, and make greater contribution to the effort to build the Belt and Road. Thank you.
China Radio International of the CMG: What important progress has been made in multimodal transport innovation, which is an important task for the Pilot Free Trade Zones of Chongqing and Sichuan? What are your considerations with regard to work for the next stage?
Song Gang: Innovating on multimodal transport and exploring international rules for trade on land is one of the key tasks given to the China (Chongqing) Pilot Free Trade Zone by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council. Revolving around the task to serve national strategies, and advance the development of BRI, the China (Chongqing) Pilot Free Trade Zone has explored in the following four areas:
First, it has carried out a pilot programme where railway bills of lading (or railway consignment notes, RCNs) could function as documents of title, and developed modes for RCNs and railway operation, innovated on the supporting rules for RCNs, introduced the “billing of lading L/C” and applied it large numbers. Presently a total of 47 RCNs have been issued, with the value of goods amounting to RMB 400 million. The “High-level Seminar on the Use of RCNs in International Trade and the Future Legal Framework” of the UNCITRAL was successfully held in Chongqing; three standards including the “International Freight Forwarders’ Code of Practice on Rail-based Intermodal Transport” have been approved and issued by the State and will be officially implemented on 1 October 2020.
Secondly, we have taken the lead in the country in carrying out the “China Post” rail express pilot through the regular and large-scale railway transport of international postal parcels via the China-Europe block train (Chongqing) service, with a total of 111 parcel containers shipped and 1,663,000 pieces of local international parcels exported, registering a value of USD 31.31 million. As a result, Chongqing has ranked among the top in the country. At present, the China (Chongqing) Pilot Free Trade Zone has been able to perform four functions through the China-Europe block train (Chongqing) service, namely serving as “a new channel for the import and export of international postal parcels by water and land, a new channel for transporting the products banned for air transport, a new channel for the dedicated cross-border delivery of e-commerce products, and a new channel for the emergency transport of international postal parcels”.
Thirdly, we have integrated the four modes of transport, namely railway, air, river and road, built a modern logistics hub system, strengthened the seamless connectivity of the hubs and nodes, and built an inland international logistics distribution centre and an international multimodal transport centre.
Fourthly, we have strengthened the synergy and integration with national strategic projects such as the new international land-sea trade corridor in China’s western region and the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity, improved the multimodal transport channel system, innovated on the rules for multimodal transport, promoted the “one consignment note” system for multimodal transport, and explored the innovative mode of “one-container throughout the process” multimodal transport for railway containers.
Going forward, we will focus on serving the national strategies, enrich the application scenarios and financing functions of the RCNs, increase publicity and promotion, optimise judicial practice, and continuously deepen the exploration of rules for land trade. Thank you.
Deng Dexiong: The “Railway +” approach where only one multimodal bill of lading is required is a result of differentiated innovation by the China (Sichuan) Pilot Free Trade Zone since the latter’s inception. On 26 April 2017, the first multimodal railway consignment note based on international railway through transport was issued in the China (Sichuan) Pilot Free Trade Zone, as a negotiable L/C document. Subsequently, innovative models such as “bank-insurance consortium” based on the bill of lading, supply chain financial platform financing, “international L/C + RMB settlement”, among others, have been created, making it possible to have “one consignment, one quotation, one bill of lading throughout the whole process, one invoice settlement, control of goods throughout the process and financial innovation”. In addition, the innovative measures aimed at improving quality, reducing cost and increasing efficiency also include the collection and consolidation of freight, the consolidated transport for the wide-gauge railway sections, and the Secure and Smart Trade Line Pilot Program (SSTL) for the China-Europe block train service.
These innovations, with their pioneering, systematic and integrated characteristics, have improved trade facilitation and access to finance and achieved desirable results. The relevant outcomes have been replicated and promoted nationwide as exemplary practices, and included in the "Cases of Implementing Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and Overcoming Difficulties in Pursuing Reform, Development and Stability" compiled by the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee and the List of Deliverables of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.
Not long ago, Sichuan Pilot Free Trade Zone launched the blockchain platform called “Sino-Europe Trade Link”, which is the world's first cross-border blockchain platform based on the “single-system” of multimodal transport. Its recent integration with the “single-system” blockchain platform of China Railway Chengdu Bureau Group Co., Ltd. is a manifestation of China’s further exploration of the “single system” for multimodal transport, which has contributed to mitigating the logistics, trade and financial pressure on foreign trade companies during the COVID-19, and to the stability of foreign trade and investment of Sichuan Pilot FTZ.
Moving forward, we will move faster in promoting and applying major institutional outcomes in innovation, and work with other pilot FTZs to push forward with innovation in this regard. With bold attempts and reforms, we would strive to achieve more outcomes and offer more valuable insights. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Song and Mr. Deng.
In the interest of time, we will take the last question.
CBN: Among this batch of pilot FTZs, Liaoning and Zhejiang Pilot FTZs are two that are located in the coastal areas, with a characteristic reform task of promoting openness and cooperation in Northeast Asia and developing the whole industry chain of oil products. Could you briefly introduce the progress and achievements made in this respect?
President Xi pointed out at the seminar on reviving the northeast of China that we need to step up to implement the key tasks for Liaoning Pilot Free Trade Zone. “Strengthening openness and cooperation in the region of Northeast Asia” is the reform task identified by the general plan for Liaoning Pilot FTZ. The People’s Government of Liaoning Province has fully implemented the key remarks and instructions of President Xi, issued the Opinions on Accelerating efforts to Promote Trade and Economic Cooperation in Northeast Asia and Developing a New Frontier for Opening-up, in which it proposed to place focus on Japan, the ROK and Russia, explore the creation of a frontier for trade and economic cooperation in Northeast Asia, and develop specific projects to accomplish this task.
Since its inception three years ago, Liaoning Pilot FTZ has concentrated on the reform task entrusted by the state of promoting openness and cooperation of Northeast Asia. Under the guidance of MOFCOM, our bold explorations have produced useful experience in reform and innovation and achieved remarkable results.
First, all-round economic cooperation with Northeast Asia has been advanced. Three years on, over 300 foreign-invested enterprises from Northeast Asia have settled in Liaoning Pilot FTZ. Shenyang Area of Liaoning Pilot FTZ has fostered a new path of developing itself into a center of innovation and people-to-people exchanges of Northeast Asia, and launched China’s first “single-window” services for border entries and exits; Dalian Area has created an international innovation platform for Chinese, South Korean and Japanese young people, and promoted the development of China-Japan Trade and Economic Industrial Cooperation Park. Yingkou Area has fully leveraged its advantages in sea-rail multimodal transport and achieved progress on developing the international trade and commercial logistics center of Northeast Asia.
Second, valuable reform experience has been accumulated. A series of Northeast Asia-focused pioneering institutional outcomes in innovation have been achieved, including the bonded mixed-ore supervision mode, the supervision of imported grains and the equity restructuring of container terminals. Seven pieces of reform experience have been replicated nationwide and 88 pieces within the Liaoning Province. Thanks to reform and innovation, we have made great strides in a number of key projects such as the mixed-iron ore, the quarantine of imported grains, the customs clearance for exported oil products, the international transit of aquatic products, etc.
Third, the reform dividend has been released continuously. Over the past three years, a total of 48000 companies have registered in Liaoning Pilot FTZ. In 2019, the FTZ had 37000 companies registering tax contributions, with total tax revenues reaching RMB10.5 billion, 3.3 times higher than before the FTZ was established; The total value of imports and exports stood at RMB169.1 billion, an increase of 1.7 times than before establishment; the fixed asset investment totaled RMB13.9 billion, 3 times larger than before establishment. 163 new key projects have been signed and put in place, among which 105 have been completed and put into production, 51 are in development, and 7 are about to launch construction.
In the next step, we would fully implement the important remarks and instructions by President Xi on the development of pilot FTZs, make continuous efforts to emancipate the mind, push forward with innovation and reforms, and strive to build a new frontier for opening-up.
Zhu Jun: Over the past three years, Zhejiang Pilot Free Trade Zone has thoroughly implemented the guiding principles of General Secretary Xi Jinping's important instructions. Under the strong leadership of the Provincial Party Committee and the Provincial Government, it has made bold attempts, initiated reforms and insisted on pioneering and differentiated reforms. In particular, the FTZ has given full play to its role as a “testing ground” for reform and embarked on a road with Zhejiang characteristics in terms of investment facilitation and trade liberalization for commodities, with the oil and gas industry chain at its core. This is mainly reflected in the following three areas:
First, the reform and innovation centered on the entire oil and gas industry chain has attracted worldwide attention. The pioneering, differentiated and integrated reform practice has resulted in a series of reform and development, with 116 cases of featured institutional innovation and practices. The experience from 27 cases has been replicated and rolled out across the country. In particular, 36 featured institutional innovation focusing on oil and gas production, storage and transportation, trading and settlement, such as the innovative reform initiatives of bonded fuel oil blending, the pilot import license for non-state traders of crude oil and the pilot program of “wholesale without inventory” for refined oil, have promoted the administrative reform of the national oil product market.
Second, we have quickened the steps to gather a number of specialized and international platforms and projects. We have vigorously brought in a number of strategic investors in the oil and gas industry, carried out cooperation across futures and spot with the Shanghai Futures Exchange, and launched Honeywell, BP acetic acid project and other major projects. More than 6,000 new oil and gas enterprises have been established, with the trading volume of oil products increasing by 111% on average per year and foreign trade and foreign investment growing by 93% and 99% on average per year; our direct supply of bunker fuel oil has exceeded 4 million tons, with an average annual growth of 57%, making us the world's eighth largest refueling port; the “Zhoushan price” of bonded bunker fuel oil is emerging. The largest oil and gas storage and transportation base in China has been built, with an oil reserve of 27.9 million tons and an annual throughput capacity of 3 million tons for LNG; a refining project with 20 million tons of annual capacity, also the first phase of the 40-million-ton per year flagship Refining-Chemical Integration Project, has been completed and put into operation; the total cross-border RMB settlement amounted to RMB 172.1 billion, with an average annual growth of 440%. Since the outbreak of NCP, thanks to the rapid development of oil trade, in January and February this year, the exports and imports of Zhoushan City grew by 30% and 120% respectively. The Zhejiang Pilot Free Trade Zone “does not produce a single drop of oil”, but its importance in the national and even the global energy landscape is growing.
Third, we will build a leading business environment in China by benchmarking against top international standards. Under the guidance of the “one-stop” service reform, we would advance the reform of “streamlining administration and delegating powers” in various sectors. The review and approval timeframe for construction projects has been reduced from more than 200 to 42 working days, among the shortest in the country; regular business start-up could be completed in four hours. We have built a paperless port for ship entry and customs clearance. The experience of “one report for multiple departments” for ship clearance under the “single window” for international trade has become a national model, reducing the time of customs clearance for ship from 16 to 2 hours; we have also taken the lead in the pilot reform of integrated ship clearance and innovated 56 port customs clearance regulatory measures; our supply of bonded bunker fuel oil is as efficient as Singapore.
In the next step, Zhejiang Pilot Free Trade Zone will vigorously implement the Measures to Support the Opening-up and Development of the Entire Oil and Gas Industrial Chain in the China (Zhejiang) Pilot Free Trade Zone, seize the major opportunity provided by policy implementation to accelerate the open development of oil and gas industry chain, and further promote the high-quality development of Zhejiang Pilot Free Trade Zone. Thank you.
Gao Feng: Thank you, Mr. Song Yanlin and Mr. Zhu Jun.
This is the end of today’s press conference. We will actively respond to the other issues of interest to you after the meeting in other ways. We would like to thank the eight speakers and all friends from the media. Thank you!
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