Beijing speeds up building digital trade demonstration zone

In recent years, Beijing has ramped up efforts to build a digital trade demonstration zone, attracting an array of major projects.

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These include Beijing International Big Data Exchange, China Beijing Environment Exchange (now China Beijing Green Exchange), Ueda Yagi Money Broking (China), the first entirely foreign-owned money broker in China and Allianz Insurance Asset Management, China’s first fully foreign-owned insurance asset management company.

The move serves as a follow-up to the city’s vigorous efforts to build a national integrated demonstration zone for greater openness in the services sector and a pilot free trade zone (FTZ), People’s Daily said in an article.

Since last September, Beijing has accomplished 80 percent of the tasks set for three to five years in the construction of the two zones. Also, it has promoted 10 of its best-practice cases in the country and implemented 34 policies introduced into the country for the first time.

The pilot FTZ, which covers 0.7 percent of the city’s area, has contributed seven percent of Beijing’s economic growth and 28 percent of the increase in the number of foreign-funded companies in the city.

Also, it provides strong support for Beijing in gathering production factors from across the world and developing itself into an international highland of openness and innovation.
Liu Meiying, deputy head of the leading group office for the two zones at the recently concluded 2021 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) said being the only city in China building such zones, Beijing has rolled out multiple policies and systems to broaden market access for foreign investors and facilitate capital flow.

Yan Ligang, head of the Beijing Municipal Commerce Bureau said, “In pursuit of a bright future through digital technologies, we are going to take advantage of the platform of the CIFTIS, give full play to Beijing’s role as a capital city, align domestic rules with high-standard international economic and trade rules to improve service trade levels in key fields.”

These include digital trade, finance, culture, professional services, education, and health care, and further liberalize and facilitate the cross-border flow of production factors, so as to form an efficient and safe service trade governance system, he said.

To advance the construction of a digital trade demonstration zone and further facilitate the flow of data, Beijing has established the Beijing International Big Data Exchange, piloted cross-border flow of data, and explored a regulatory sandbox mechanism for data market out of concerns for safety in the digital economy.

Beijing has also pushed ahead international cooperation on digital trade, striving to build a world-class digital trade port and foster mechanisms for collaboration.

Driven by policies on the construction of the two zones, over 1,035 foreign-invested enterprises initiated projects in Beijing from January to July, a year-on-year increase of 55.2 percent.

During the same period, the city’s actual use of foreign capital reached $10.33 billion, 19.1 percent more than that of the same period last year.

The Chinese capital city has also taken measures to simplify work-related formalities for foreign talent. It has also allowed foreign talents with permanent residence permits to establish sci-tech companies and guaranteed that they are equally treated in the market as Chinese entrepreneurs, making it easier for them to start their own businesses.

“We are on the front foot and have great potential to integrate it into online and offline health care services before, during, and after consultations,” said Zhu Hailuan, vice president of the China branch of Sanofi, a French multinational pharmaceutical company that established a production base in Beijing as early as 1995.

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