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China links four free trade zones in Yangtze River Delta

(ATF) Four key free trade zones in China’s rich Yangtze River Delta region are hoping an alliance will promote collaboration in trade, investment, and technology innovation, and in key industries such as integrated circuits, biomedicine and artificial intelligence.

The alliance has been jointly set up by free trade zones in Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Anhui, while the secretariat is located in Shanghai, according to a statement on Shanghai government’s website.

The alliance will “inject new impetus into the four pilot free trade zones and build a new platform for the high-quality integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta region”, the statement said.

The Yangtze River Delta, which centres around metropolitan Shanghai, accounts for about a quarter of China’s gross domestic product (GDP) and one-third of China’s imports and exports.

It is China’s richest region per capita, and in 2020 generated a GDP of 24.47 trillion yuan (US$3.8 trillion). For comparison, the second richest region – the Pearl River Delta in Guangdong province – accounted for 10% of GDP last year.

The pilot free trade zones in the Yangtze River Delta involve 11 cities – about a quarter of the total in the region.

Jiangsu Free Trade Zone will promote the integration of Suzhou into the Shanghai metropolitan area and actively participate in the construction of the Hongqiao International Open Hub, Cui Jian, deputy director of the Jiangsu Free Trade Office, said at the inauguration ceremony of the alliance.


The State Council in February approved a plan to develop Shanghai’s Hongqiao business district, and neighbouring districts and cities into an international open hub featuring integrated transport, exhibitions, foreign-invested cultural venues, cross-border capital operations and duty-free shopping.

At the industrial level, Jiangsu Free Trade Zone will promote resource sharing and exchanges in the industries with common advantages, such as integrated circuits, biomedicine and artificial intelligence in the Yangtze River Delta, Cui added.

Sheng Qiuping, head of Zhejiang’s commerce department, said the Zhejiang Mercantile Exchange and the Shanghai Futures Exchange will be able to work more closely together with the help of the alliance.

In addition to the municipality of Shanghai, the Yangtze River Delta region was traditionally made up of the provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang, and more recently also includes the province of Anhui. The whole region covers 211,770 square kilometres – more than twice the size of South Korea.

The automobile industry has a good foundation in Yangtze River Delta, while each area in the region has their own strengths, while Shanghai is a logistics centre and China’s financial hub.

Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces have strong manufacturing bases. They are well known for their large number of industrial parks, in cities such as Hangzhou and Suzhou, and the huge quantities of foreign direct investment that they attract.

Anhui province has an abundance of natural resources, and is a large provider of energy and coal to eastern China.


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Iris Hong

Iris Hong is a senior reporter for the China desk, and has special interests in fintech, e-commerce, AI, and electric vehicles. She began her career in 2006 and worked for Interfax News Agency and for PayPal before joining Asia Financial in July 2020. You can reach out to Iris on Twitter at @Iris23360981


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