New Batch of Provinces Join China’s Free-Trade Zones

Seven more provinces have been endorsed to join China’s free-trade zones, bringing the national total to 11, reports the South China Morning Post.

The provinces are Chongqing, Zhejiang, Hubei, Henan, Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Liaoning. The increase reflects the government’s  goal to spur growth. No timetable has been revealed for the new zones.

These new provinces join Shanghai, the first FTZ which was launched in late 2013, as well as  Guangdong, Fujian, and Tianjin. The yuan has yet to be fully convertible at any of the zones, according to the Post.

The Post also reports that to improve conditions for trade and investment, the State Council further relaxed restrictions on foreign investment in the zones last month, allowing freer market access to sectors such as steelmaking, car batteries and shipping.

But authorities have been warned about the threat of rampant cross-border flows of hot money through the free-trade zones, according to the Post.

Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said risk control would continue to be a major focus as the zones were developed.

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