Open Governance
The 5th Anniversary of the Founding of SCFTZ Sees Over 800 Institutional Innovations as a Result of Bold Explorations

The first day of April marks the fifth anniversary of the inauguration of China (Sichuan) Pilot Free Trade Zone (SCFTZ). By the end of December 2021, China (Sichuan) Pilot Free Trade Zone (SCFTZ) had seen the registration of 192,000 enterprises, with registered capital exceeding 1.9 trillion yuan, introduced 494 projects worth more than 100 million yuan, with actual foreign investment of 3.2 billion U.S. dollars, and secured imports and exports of 351.58 billion yuan, according to the Office of SCFTZ. Especially in the face of the challenges posed by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Zone has shown greater resilience and vitality. In 2021, 55,635 enterprises were established, up 24% year on year; foreign direct investment (FDI) reached 1.51 billion U.S. dollars, up 69.7% year on year; and the proportion of FDI in the province increased to 44.9% from 4.3% at the beginning. 

On April 1, 2017, SCFTZ was officially established as one of the third batch of pilot free trade zones in China. Focusing on high-level opening-up and high-quality development, the Zone has accelerated the release of reform dividends, continued to burst out innovation vitality, smoothly pushed forward with pilot reforms to a new level, driven the transition of the province's opening-up to institutional opening-up, and made achievements of opening up in Sichuan that have won the recognition of social and economic sectors at home and abroad.

The basic institutional system has been further improved. The Zone has given full play to the role of five task forces, namely management system innovation, two-way investment, port logistics, financial opening-up innovation, and legal guarantee, to concentrate their efforts in making breakthroughs in major reform tasks. It has formulated and implemented the Regulations of China (Sichuan) Pilot Free Trade Zone, which is closely aligned with the Foreign Investment Law of the People's Republic of China; introduced 45 measures to support deepening reform and innovation in the Zone, and established China's first court and procuratorate named after a provincial-level free trade zone.

Institutional innovation has gained momentum across the board. The Zone has boldly explored and achieved more than 800 institutional innovations in alignment with the experience of advanced regions in China, the World Bank's Doing Business indicators, as well as high-level international economic and trade rules including the Comprehensive Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Sichuan has contributed 12 out of 104 pilot experiences in the latest four batches promoted at the national level. The Zone has propelled the promotion of 278 reform experiences at the national level and 81 ones in five batches in Sichuan.

A number of fruitful results have been achieved from differentiated pilot reforms. Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport has opened 131 international (regional) routes, Chengdu International Railway Port has connected 69 overseas cities and 25 domestic ones, Luzhou Port has adopted the policy of "tax rebate at a port of departure + dry port", the Golden Waterway of the Yangtze River has been seamlessly connected to the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor and China-Europe Railway Express... Closely following the strategic positioning of "four areas and one highland" (i.e. building a leading area for the development and opening-up of gateway cities in western China, a pilot area for the strategic support belt for inland opening-up, a hub area for international opening-up corridors, a new highland for an open inland economy, and a demonstration area for coordinated opening-up between the inland and coastal areas, border areas and riverside areas), the Zone has leveraged its advantages of being adjacent to the airport, the railway and the river, fostered a strong momentum of integrated development of "transport, trade and industry", and promoted Sichuan's opening up to the outside world.

High-level opening-up has led the way in high-quality economic development. The Zone has innovatively facilitated the first order of foreign-funded value-added telecom business in western China, and the launch of aviation engine bonded maintenance bases at home and abroad, and led high-quality economic development by building a number of major open platform carriers.

Coordinated opening-up in the region has been deepened. Many important breakthroughs have been made in the development of Sichuan-Chongqing Pilot Free Trade Zone collaborative opening-up demonstration area: Jointly operating the first China-Europe freight train (Chengdu-Chongqing), co-launching the first China-Europe freight train brand jointly operated by two places in China, realizing cross-regional filing, cross-regional trial, cross-regional mediation, and cross-regional collaborative execution at the Chengdu and Chongqing free trade zone courts ...

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