Hainan fine-tuning FTP policies, says top official

Updated: Jan 26, 2021 By MA ZHIPING in Haikou China Daily Print
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Consumers gather at a duty-free store in Sanya, Hainan province, on Dec 30. [Photo by Sha Xiaofeng/For China Daily]

Hainan will focus on institutional innovation and fine-tune the free trade port policies during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25), while creating the necessary framework for Customs clearance on the island by the end of 2024, Feng Fei, acting governor of the province, said on Sunday.

In his government work report addressed to the Fourth Session of the Sixth People's Congress of Hainan Province that opened in Haikou, the provincial capital, Feng said the province will continue to perfect its social management information platform and improve the visa-free entry mechanisms in Hainan and establish a regular joint anti-smuggling mechanism with Guangdong province and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

China released a master plan for the construction of Hainan free trade port on June 1, 2020, aiming to build Hainan island, which is about 32 times the size of Hong Kong, into a globally influential, high-level free trade port by the middle of the century.

Focusing on trade and investment facilitation, the plan envisages the setting up of special Customs supervision zones in qualified areas on the island. An import-export management system featuring "free flow through the first line and efficient control at the second line" has been adopted by the Yangpu Bonded Port Area in the province, with a significant reduction in the Customs clearance procedures, said officials.

The "first line" refers to the demarcation line between Hainan FTP and other countries and overseas regions while the "second line" refers to the dividing line between Hainan FTP and other regions on the Chinese mainland.

Hainan will step up research on the Customs clearance mechanism so that the "second line "management systems and management measures are fully in place. The province will establish a regulatory system in line with the high-level international economic and trade rules this year, and strive to finish the FTP preparatory work, said the acting governor.

Kuang Xianming, director of the Economic Research Center under the Haikou-based China Institute for Reform and Development, said the island province has made solid progress in developing a provincial social management platform.

"More efforts are needed to accelerate port construction, especially those serving the 'second line' control. Financial risk prevention is another issue that needs attention," said Kuang.

Xia Feng, executive director of the Institute for Advanced Studies of Humanities and Social Sciences at Hainan University, said measures to prevent smuggling also need to be worked out.

During the 14th Five-Year Plan period, duty-free sales networks around the whole Hainan island will be improved to better meet domestic needs for imported goods, with sales volume of duty-free items expected to hit 300 billion yuan ($46.32 billion) in five years, according to the government report.

Hainan will promote "mail delivery" of duty-free goods and use other policy means to achieve annual sales of more than 60 billion yuan this year. In 2020, more than 3.4 million shoppers visited duty-free centers in Hainan and spent 31.58 billion yuan on duty-free goods, Haikou Customs said.

Port throughput at Yangpu reached 56.64 million metric tons in 2020, up 12.95 percent on a yearly basis, while container throughput reached more than 1 million twenty-foot equivalent units, rising 44.02 percent on a yearly basis, according to data from the provincial government.

The acting governor said that more than 800 leading global brands will participate in the forthcoming China International Consumer Goods Expo in Haikou from May 7-10.

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