China opens new trade zone in Shanghai, reform plans unveiled
By Gabriel Wildau and Pete Sweeney
SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China opened a new free trade zone in Shanghai on Sunday in what has been hailed as potentially the boldest reform in decades, and gave fresh details on plans to liberalize regulations governing finance, investment and trade in the area.
Officials gave no details on when specific initiatives will be implemented but the government has said most will be introduced in the next three years.
The Shanghai FTZ, which covers an area of nearly 29 sq km on the eastern outskirts of the commercial hub, was approved by China's State Council, or cabinet, in July.
State-run Xinhua news agency quoted Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng as saying that the creation of the FTZ was a crucial decision for China's next wave of reform and opening-up.
"It follows the trend of global economic developments and reflects a more active strategy of opening-up," Gao said at the launch ceremony.
The State Council said on Friday it would open up its largely sheltered services sector to foreign competition in the zone and use it as a test bed for bold financial reforms, including a convertible yuan and liberalized interest rates.
Economists consider both areas key levers for restructuring the world's second-largest economy and putting it on a more sustainable growth path.
Some Chinese and foreign firms are already setting up subsidiaries in the zone. Continued...