Wednesday, October 30, 2013, 08:23
More firms register in Shanghai pilot FTZ
By Shi Jing in Shanghai

Authority statistics show that there were 208 newly registered companies in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone by Oct 28 in the first month of its operation since it was launched.

Among the 208 newcomers, 20 of them are foreign companies and the rest are Chinese. The total registered capital of newly registered companies in the area amounted to more than 3.5 billion yuan ($574.77 million) by Oct 25, according to the latest statistics provided by the Shanghai Administration for Industry and Commerce.

Of the total, 122 are engaged in trade and 36 focus on investment and capital management.

The number of newly registered companies continues to rise. A total of 1,528 companies have entered the name-approval procedure, which marks the start of the registration process.

According to the FTZ’s framework plan, 23 opening-up policies will be adopted, covering six industries. In one month, 12 policies have been implemented and another seven are about to be put into effect. Another four policies regarding cargo transportation, banking and legal services are waiting for detailed regulations and approval from the central government.

So far, 23 financial institutions have been approved to operate in the FTZ. Five State-owned commercial banks, as well as Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, China Merchants Bank and Bank of Shanghai have set up branches in the FTZ. Four overseas banks including Citibank, DBS, HSBC and Bank of East Asia have also been approved to set up FTZ branches.

Dai Haibo, deputy director of the zone’s administrative committee, was quoted as saying by Xinhua News Agency that the FTZ is closely working with the central bank, financial regulatory authorities and the Shanghai Financial Services Office to complete the financial regulatory policies in the FTZ.

Shanghai Mayor Yang Xiong said at the International Business Leaders’ Advisory Council for The Mayor of Shanghai held at the weekend that the enthusiasm given to financial services in the FTZ should be cooled down somehow at the moment. He said that financial services should work for the purpose of promoting trade rather than simply serving financial institutions.

But there is still potential for further development. Regarding the negative list released at the end of September, which bans foreign investment in 38 areas and restricts another 152, Yang added at the council that the list is very likely to be revised and shortened over time.

Active also is the property market in the FTZ. The rental of office buildings in the FTZ has risen by 207 percent compared with the beginning of the year, according to Topsur Consulting, a Shanghai-based property market information provider. Statistics provided by the CRIC research center showed that the property prices in the FTZ have been rising since April, when the local and central government started to study the plans for the FTZ.

The FTZ concept stocks, which soared before the launch of the FTZ, now seem to have cooled down. Wang Jianhui, chief economist at Southwest Securities Co Ltd, said it was usual practice for all concept stocks. He expected that some over-valued stocks such as property stocks will be adjusted to a more reasonable level.

Wang said that concept of the FTZ has not been fully demonstrated in that there are just a few stocks in the sectors of trade, logistics or property being played up. In the future, he anticipates some innovative high-technology companies and fully internationalized logistics companies will enter the zone to make the FTZ complete.

“The benefit of the FTZ is more than what we have seen so far. The FTZ is a very important attempt at reform and further opening-up. So long as the attempt is successful, the example of the zone will be applied to a possibly wider area of China,” said Wang.