Fujian FTZ, BRI projects propel province’s growth, opening-up: expert
23 Jul 2021


The fast growth of the China (Fujian) Pilot Free Trade Zone (Fujian FTZ) in East China's Fujian Province and the province's endeavors to participate in building the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) have become dual engines for local economic development, enabling the province to further open up to the world, an expert noted.


The Fujian FTZ occupies an area of 118.04 square kilometers, and is composed of three sections: Pingtan, Xiamen and Fuzhou. It started operation on April 21, 2015.


According to the Vision And Actions On Jointly Building Silk Road Economic Belt And 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road released in 2015, Fujian province was identified as a core area of the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road. Later in the year, Fujian followed up with a plan on developing into a core area of the BRI.


"Leveraging on Fujian's position as a core area of the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, the Fujian FTZ has a broader scope for opening-up, which will forge a new pattern of open economy for the province,” said Huang Maoxing, a deputy to the 13th National People's Congress and dean of the School of Economics at Fujian Normal University.


Huang told the Belt and Road Portal that Fujian's efforts to integrate the FTZ development with the BRI will help the province strengthen the economic and trade cooperation with global markets, particularly the countries and regions along the BRI routes, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members and countries in South Asia and West Asia.


Meanwhile, the FTZ could help break through some institutional barriers and trade barriers through institutional innovation, further ease foreign investment access and improve relevant rules and regulations to attract more foreign capital from countries and regions along the BRI routes into Fujian, Huang noted. “Such efforts will expand cooperation scope between Fujian and BRI countries and regions.”


Fujian's foreign trade volume reached 534.78 billion yuan ($83.09 billion) in the first four months of 2021, up 39.7 percent year-on-year, the Xinhua News Agency reported, citing local customs data.


Major imported goods during the period included electronic components, iron ore and agricultural products, while exports were mainly composed of mechanical and electrical products, and labor-intensive goods such as textiles and garments.


The coastal province's trade with members of ASEAN and the EU reached 103.98 billion yuan and 57.7 billion yuan, respectively, the latest data showed.


Huang said that local companies are expected to expand investment and trade exchanges with ASEAN countries through industrial cooperation parks and overseas economic and trade cooperation zones.


In future, there are several ways to further advance the integrated development of the Fujian FTZ and the local projects related to the BRI, including promoting emerging marine industries, making good use of port resources and improving transportation infrastructure construction, according to Huang.


As the three areas of the Fujian FTZ – Pingtan, Xiamen and Fuzhou – excel in marine resources and technology, more focus will be put on optimizing marine industrial structure and promoting emerging marine industries in the coming years, he said.


To give full play to the advantages of the ports, the province is also expected to speed up the construction of some port industrial bases and large-scale logistics parks, Huang noted.


Source: Belt and Road Portal