China says 12 new free trade zones will follow Shanghai

Beijing has approved 12 new free trade zones (FTZs) three months after opening the first in Shanghai, as it attempts to increase growth.

As reported in The South China Morning Post, the official news agency Xinhua said that the new FTZs will include Tianjin near the capital and Guangdong in the south close to Hong Kong. Both will be launched in about a year.

According to a government source, other candidates included Zhejiang’s Zhoushan , which consists of several islands with a focus on the shipping business; Qingdao , an important port city; Chengdu, a southwestern business hub; Wuhan , a central province; and Hangzhou , where e-commerce giant Alibaba is based.

Xinhua said that the new zones will have to conduct a survey and draw up specific plans. This process could last more than a year.

According to AFP, the free trade zone in Shanghai, which covers an area of about 29 square kilometres opened last September. It was opened by Beijing to test reforms, such as allowing free convertibility of the yuan currency and loosening restrictions on foreign investment.

The zone also came with a list of banned activities. This was criticised as being too restrictive and authorities later promised that a revised list would be released in 2014.