FDI China Exclusive: The 21 Free Trade Zones Guide 2021

Table of Contents

Special Economic Zones (or Free Trade Zones) is a Chinese government economic policy that was introduced in 2013 in a grand plan to bolster and promote foreign direct investment in various industries varying by region. The first special economic zones (SEZ) were created with the intent of promoting international trading. The first designated Free Trade Zones (FTZ) opened in Shanghai in 2013, followed by Guangdong, Tianjin and Fujian in 2015.

Free Trade Zones are areas where goods may be landed, handled, manufactured or reconfigured, and re-exported without the intervention of the local customs authorities. Only when the goods are moved to consumers within the province in which the zone is located do they become subject to the prevailing customs duties.

Companies registered (location of registered address) within the boundaries of these SEZ enjoy: 

  • Lower corporate tax rates
  • Import tax exemption until goods are moved out of the SEZ (out of the warehouse)
  • Free currency exchange rate (no fees for converting major currencies)
  • A fast and streamlined customs clearance.
  • A hub of transportation, pick and pack and logistic service providers to choose from. All nearby.
  • A faster VAT refund

Following the success of the first 4 FTZs, the CPC decided to open additional FTZs with different economic incentives (not just trading) to align with the government planned economy across its territory.

We know that information on most of the newer Free Trade Zones in China is hard to come by…

In this guide, we take a deep dive into every Special Economic Zone in China. We research and report each trade zone’s economic policy, industries of interest, purpose, location and more!

1. Shanghai Free Trade Zone

Started: 2013

Locations: Shanghai, Pudong District

Waigaoqiao Free Trade Logistics Park – end of metro line 6

Yangshan Free Trade Port Area – metro line 2

Pudong Airport Comprehensive Free Trade Zone – metro line 2

Shanghai Jinqiao Economic and Technological Development Zone – metro line 6

Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park – metro line 2

Shanghai FTZ Website: http://en.china-shftz.gov.cn/

Industries of interest: International trade and finance

Policies:

  • Lower corporate tax rates between 15% and 9%
  • Import tax exemption until goods are moved out of the SEZ (out of the warehouse)
  • Free currency exchange rate (no fees for converting major currencies)
  • A fast and streamlined customs clearance.
  • A hub of transportation, pick and pack and logistic service providers to choose from. All nearby.
  • Faster VAT refund

 

2. Guangdong Free Trade Zone

Started: 2015

Location: 3 major cities in Guangdong province

Guangzhou: Nansha District, New Area and port

Shenzhen: Qianhai District, Development Zone

Zhuhai: Hengqin District, New Area

Guangdong FTZ website: http://ftz.gd.gov.cn/Eng/

Industries of interest: International trade and finance

Policies:

  • Lower corporate tax rates between 15% and 9%
  • Import tax exemption until goods are moved out of the SEZ (out of the warehouse)
  • Free currency exchange rate (no fees for converting major currencies)
  • A fast and streamlined customs clearance.
  • A hub of transportation, pick and pack and logistic service providers to choose from. All nearby.
  • Faster VAT refund

 

3. Tianjin Free Trade Zone

Started: 2015

Location and industries: 

Tianjin Airport Economic Area: high-end manufacturing industries, aviation, aerospace, equipment manufacturing, IT, R&D, design and aviation logistics

Tianjin Dongjiang Free Trade Port Zone: shipping logistics, international trade, and financial leasing.

Tianjin Binhai New Area Central Business District: financial services and commerce.

Tianjin FTZ website: https://www.tjftz.gov.cn/english/

Policies:

  • Lower corporate tax rates between 15% and 9%
  • Import tax exemption until goods are moved out of the SEZ (out of the warehouse)
  • Free currency exchange rate (no fees for converting major currencies)
  • A fast and streamlined customs clearance.
  • A hub of transportation, pick and pack and logistic service providers to choose from. All nearby.
  • Faster VAT refund

 

4. Fujian Free Trade Zone

Started: 2015

Location and industries of interest: 3 cities in Fujian province

Fuzhou: international trade and finance

Xiamen: international trade and finance

Pingtan: international trade and finance

Fujian FTZ website: http://www.china-fjftz.gov.cn/html/en/index.html

Policies:

  • Lower corporate tax rates between 15% and 9%
  • Import tax exemption until goods are moved out of the SEZ (out of the warehouse)
  • Free currency exchange rate (no fees for converting major currencies)
  • A fast and streamlined customs clearance.
  • A hub of transportation, pick and pack and logistic service providers to choose from. All nearby.
  • Faster VAT refund

5. Chongqing Special Economic Zone

Started: 2016

Locations: Chongqing

Liangjiang new area: new technologies and biotechnologies
Liangjiang FTZ website:
http://enljxqfy.chinacourt.gov.cn/index.shtml

Xiyong: Microelectronic activities and high tech

Guoyang port: logistics and trade

Policies:

  • A fast and streamlined customs clearance.
  • A hub of transportation, pick and pack and logistic service providers to choose from. All nearby.

 

6. Sichuan Free Trade Zone

Started: 2016

Location and industries of interest:

Chengdu: IT & communications, logistics, vehicle import, financial services, high-end manufacturing, high-tech Industries, air-transportation related economy and port services

Chengdu  FTZ website: http://ftz.chengdu.gov.cn/FTA/home.shtml

Policies:

  • A faster and streamlined customs clearance depending on HS code of product.
  • A hub of transportation, pick and pack and logistic service providers to choose from. All nearby.

 

7. Shaanxi Special Economic Zone

Started: 2016

Locations and industries: 2 cities in Shaanxi

Xi’an: high-end manufacturing, aviation logistics, trade, financial services, tourism, exhibition services and e-commerce.

Xianyang: Agricultural science and technology.

Shaanxi FTZ website: http://en.xa.gov.cn/business/whyxian/2242.htm

Policies: 

  • A faster and streamlined customs clearance depending on HS code of product.
  • A hub of transportation, pick and pack and logistic service providers to choose from. All nearby.

8. Henan Free Trade Zone

Started: 2016

Location & Industries: 3 cities in Henan province

Zhengzhou: development of advanced manufacturing industries,such as high‑end equipment, automobile production and biomedicine. It will also promote a range of high-end services such as logistics, e‑commerce, financial services, service outsourcing, design and trade conferences/exhibitions.
Zhengzhou FTZ website:
http://en.zzftz.gov.cn/

Kaifang: Service outsourcing, medical tourism, tourism, cultural trade, design, fine art trading and logistics equipment manufacturing, agricultural processing and related trade activities.
Kaifang FTZ website:
http://www.kfftz.gov.cn/

Luoyang: High‑end manufacturing such as equipment manufacturing, robotics and innovative materials, R&D, design, e‑commerce, service outsourcing, tourism, cultural and creative industries, cultural trade and cultural exhibitions.
Luoyang FTZ website:
http://www.china-lyftz.gov.cn

Henan FTZ website: http://en.zzftz.gov.cn/zcfg/143.jhtml

Policies:

  • Foreign capital can be freely invested into suitable manufacturing in the region.
  • Restriction on foreign-owned manufacturing (factory) operations are lifted in the region.
  • IP rights are enforced and foreign manufacturers are protected.
  • Issue permanent residency to high-level foreign talents and their spouses / dependents.

9. Zhejiang Free Trade Zone

Started: 2016

Location & industries: 3 cities in Zhejiang province

Ningbo: international petrochemical and shipping hub for wet bulk trade. (Oil and gas)
Ningbo FTZ website:
http://www.nftz.gov.cn/col/col1229026785/index.html

Hangzhou: AI, fintech, life sciences, e-commerce and high-tech manufacturing.
Hangzhou FTZ website:
http://www.ehangzhou.gov.cn/index.html

Jinyi: commodity, logistics, and manufacturing

Zhejiang FTZ website: https://zcom.zj.gov.cn/art/2018/2/27/art_1455357_15652993.html

Policies:

  • A more open financial investment sector to foreigners
  • Trade facilitation and innovation

10. Hubei Free Trade Zone

Started: 2016

Locations and industries of interest: 3 cities in Hubei province

Wuhan: International commerce and trade, financial services, logistics, R&D, design, and emerging industries such as but not limited to optoelectronics information, advanced manufacturing, and biomedicine.

Yichang: Cultural tourism, biomedicine, R&D, shipping logistics, equipment manufacturing, and the high-tech industry.

Xiangyang: Manufacturing of high-end equipment, new-energy vehicles, logistics, trade, product exhibition, e-commerce, big data, cloud computing and other services.

Hunan FTZ website: http://en.hubei.gov.cn/news/newslist/201609/t20160907_894646.shtml

Policies:

  • Lower corporate tax rates between 15% and 9%
  • Import tax exemption until goods are moved out of the SEZ (out of the warehouse)
  • Free currency exchange rate (no fees for converting major currencies)
  • A fast and streamlined customs clearance.
  • A hub of transportation, pick and pack and logistic service providers to choose from. All nearby.
  • Faster VAT refund

11. Liaoning Special Economic Zone

Started: 2016

Locations and industries of interest: 3 cities in Liaoning  province

Dalian: port and shipping logistics, financial trade, advanced equipment manufacturing, high-tech and new technology, circular economy, shipping services and other industries.

Shenyang: advanced manufacturing, auto vehicles and auto components, aviation equipment, modern services including finance, science and technology and logistics.

Yingkou: services, trade logistics, cross-border e-commerce, finance, strategic emerging industries, information technology and high-end equipment manufacturing.

Liaoning FTZ website: http://www.china-lnftz.gov.cn/en/index.html

Policies:

  • Lower corporate tax rates between 15% and 9%
  • Import tax exemption until goods are moved out of the SEZ (out of the warehouse)
  • Free currency exchange rate (no fees for converting major currencies)
  • A fast and streamlined customs clearance.
  • A hub of transportation, pick and pack and logistic service providers to choose from. All nearby.
  • Faster VAT refund
  • Foreign capital can be freely invested into suitable manufacturing in the region.
  • Restriction on foreign-owned manufacturing (factory) operations are lifted in the region.
  • IP rights are enforced and foreign manufacturers are protected.
  • Issue permanent residency to high-level foreign talents and their spouses / dependents.

12. Hainan Free Trade Port

Started: 2018

Location: Hainan Island/province. Capital: Haikou

Industries of interest: International trade and finance

Hainan FTZ website: http://en.hnftp.gov.cn/

Policies:

  • Lower corporate tax rates between 15% and 9%
  • Import tax exemption until goods are moved out of the SEZ (out of the warehouse)
  • Free currency exchange rate (no fees for converting major currencies)
  • A fast and streamlined customs clearance.
  • A hub of transportation, pick and pack and logistic service providers to choose from. All nearby.
  • Faster VAT refund

 

13. Jiangsu Free Trade Zone

Started: 2019

Locations and industries of interest: 3 cities in Jiangsu province

Suzhou: trade and investment, administrative services, legal system, aerospace and biomedical science.

Nanjing: semiconductors, life and health industry, AI, IT and finance.

Lianyungang: advanced manufacturing such as biomedicine, new materials, new energy and high-end equipment, logistics, cross-border e-commerce, technology services, financial services, health care, leisure, tourism, business support, big data, port and shipping logistics, distribution and transshipment, warehousing, port processing, trading and supporting services.

Jiangsu FTZ website: http://swt.jiangsu.gov.cn/col/col79303/index.html

Policies:

  • Lower corporate tax rates between 15% and 9%
  • Import tax exemption until goods are moved out of the SEZ (out of the warehouse)
  • Free currency exchange rate (no fees for converting major currencies)
  • A fast and streamlined customs clearance.
  • A hub of transportation, pick and pack and logistic service providers to choose from. All nearby.
  • Faster VAT refund

14. Shandong Free Trade Zone

Started: 2019

Locations and industries of interest:

Qingdao Free Trade Port Zone: marine industries, foreign trade, shipping logistics, financial services, advanced manufacturing, exchange market, bonded processing.
Qingdao FTZ Website:
http://bofcom.qingdao.gov.cn/

Jinan: AI, industrial financial services, health care and elderly care, tourism and IT.

Yantai: high-end manufacturing, new materials, IT, green-tech and biomedicine.

Policies:

  • Lower corporate tax rates between 15% and 9%
  • Import tax exemption until goods are moved out of the SEZ (out of the warehouse)
  • Free currency exchange rate (no fees for converting major currencies)
  • A fast and streamlined customs clearance.
  • A hub of transportation, pick and pack and logistic service providers to choose from. All nearby.
  • Faster VAT refund

15. Hebei Free Trade Zone

Started: 2019

Location and industries of interest:

Xiongan Area: IT, life science, e-commerce, biotechnology and high-tech related services.

Zhengding Area: airport economy, biomedicine, logistics, high-end equipment manufacturing, aviation.

Caofeidian Port Area: international commodity trade, port and shipping services, energy storage and distribution and high-end equipment manufacturing.

Daxing Airport Area: aviation logistics, aviation technology and financial leasing.

Policies:

  • A faster and streamlined customs clearance depending on HS code of product.
  • A hub of transportation, pick and pack and logistic service providers to choose from. All nearby.

16. Heilongjiang Free Trade Zone

Started: 2019 to boost co‑operation with Russia and Northeast Asia

Location and industries of interest: 3 cities in Heilongjiang province 

Harbin: next‑gen IT, novel materials, high‑end equipment, biomedicine, tech-based services, financial services and tourism.

Heihe: cross‑border energy resources, food cultivation, trade, logistics, tourism, healthcare and financial services.

Suifenghe: import processing for materials such as timber, grains and clean energy, financial services and logistics.

Heilongjiang FTZ Website: http://ftz.heihe.gov.cn/

Policies: 

  • A faster and streamlined customs clearance depending on HS code of product.
  • A hub of transportation, pick and pack and logistic service providers to choose from. All nearby.

17. Guangxi Free Trade Zone

Started: 2019

Location and industries of interest: 3 cities in Guangxi province

Nanning: financial services, logistics, digital services, culture and media and new manufacturing industries.
Nanning FTZ website:
http://www.wuxiangxinqu.gov.cn/

Qinzhou port: port logistics, international trade, ‘green’ chemicals, new‑energy vehicle parts, electronics and biomedicine.
Qinzhou FTZ website:
http://qzftz.qinzhou.gov.cn/

Chongzuo: international trade, logistics, financial services and tourism.

Guangxi FTZ Website: http://en.gxzf.gov.cn/guangxiftz.html

Policies:

  • A faster and streamlined customs clearance depending on HS code of product.
  • A hub of transportation, pick and pack and logistic service providers to choose from. All nearby.

18. Yunnan Free Trade Zone

Started: 2019

Locations and industries of interest: 3 cities in Yunnan province

Kunming FTZ: high-end manufacturing, aviation logistics, agriculture, biomedicine and health, IT F&B and consumer goods manufacturing, tourism, logistics, new materials and advanced equipment manufacturing.
Kunming FTZ website:
https://ftz.yn.gov.cn/en-us/

Dehong: Imports & exports, cross-border e-commerce logistics, ‘green’ food processing, tourism, medical and financial services.
Dehong FTZ website:
http://dehong.ynmaker.com/en-us/

Honghe: Imports & exports, cross-border e-commerce logistics, tourism, medical and financial services.
Honghe FTZ website:
http://honghe.ynmaker.com/en-us/

19. Beijing Free Trade Zone

Started: 2020

Location: Beijing

Industry of interest: Innovation, fin-tech and services

Purpose: Development of a world-class innovation hub

Policies: 

  • A more open financial sector to foreigners
  • Trade facilitation and innovation
  • Ease of integrated development and international trade
  • Easier for high-end talent to obtain visa

 

20. Anhui Free Trade Zone

Started: 2020

Locations & industries: 3 cities in Anhui province

Hefei: integrated circuits, AI, fin-tech, and cross-border e-commerce

Wuhu: smart home appliances, aviation, robotics, and shipping

Bengbu: silicon-based materials, green-tech, and green-energy

Purpose: The area will lead manufacturing of green-tech and high-tech

Policies:

  • A more open financial sector to foreigners
  • Trade facilitation and innovation
  • Ease of integrated development and international trade

21. Hunan Free Trade Zone

Started: 2020

Locations and industries: 3 cities in Hunan province

Changsha: Manufacturing of AI, Quantum computing, renewable energies, and green tech.

Yueyang: Manufacturing of AI, Quantum computing, renewable energies, and green tech.

Chenzhou: Manufacturing of AI, Quantum computing, renewable energies, and green tech.

Policies:

  • Trade facilitation and innovation
  • Ease of integrated development and international trade

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