Quick passage of trade zone rules urged
Updated: 2013-07-18 02:48
By ZHOU WENTING and SHI JING (China Daily)
Legal advisers in Shanghai are calling on local lawmakers to quickly approve legislation governing the municipality's free trade zone to ensure the rule of law and hasten economic growth.
The Shanghai Research Commission of Rule of Law ranks establishing regulations for the free trade zone the city's top economic legislative priority, and the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences said the zone is one of four projects that need legislation urgently.
Researchers from the commission and the academy made this case in a meeting with the Shanghai People's Congress Standing Committee on Wednesday.
The district government of Pudong New Area, where the zone is located, first put forward a proposal for legislation to govern the free trade zone, but the Standing Committee of the Shanghai's People Congress said it has not yet approved the draft.
Xu Bingzhi, vice-president of Shanghai Research Commission of Rule of Law, told lawmakers, "Corresponding legislation is essential to ensure reform in trade, finance, taxation, customs and administrative management to standardize operations in the experimental field and cultivate new competitive advantages of Shanghai."
The State Council approved Shanghai's free trade zone project on July 3. The project will occupy 28 square km in Pudong New Area, including the eastern part of Shanghai, the Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone, the Yangshan Free Trade Port Area and the Pudong Airport Comprehensive Free Trade Zone.
The project, due to be completed in 10 years, is the first of its kind in the Chinese mainland. The zone will act as a major hub for world-class transportation and communication facilities and be a tax-free environment for domestic and foreign enterprises serving supply chains in Asia.
Ye Qing, vice-president of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, emphasized the importance of quickly approving legislation governing the zone.
"This is a legislation project of strategic and overarching significance with extensive attention. Making laws is a foundation to firmly promote sustainable and healthy development and is conducive to economic restructuring driven by innovation," Ye said.
Wan Zengwei, director of the Pudong Academy of Reform and Development in Shanghai, echoed Ye's sentiments. "The free trade zone will guarantee growth, accelerate economic restructuring, expand exports and boost domestic consumption in Shanghai. It will also help local companies explore overseas markets," Wan said.
Experts also said the current priority is clarifying which financial policies will be adopted in the area.
"It is only when the policies regarding financial settlements, exchange rates, exchange controls and financing are made explicit that a free trade zone can be set up in a real sense," said Chu Jianxue, deputy director of the Shanghai Logistics Society.
The standing committee has collected proposals for legislative plans for the next five years (2013-17) and received 255 proposals, including 69 in the economic sector, since April. It has also authorized the research commission and the academy to screen and assess the proposals.
Meanwhile, a public survey shows that laws should focus on food safety, personal information security, abuse of power, management of the migrant population and patient-hospital disputes.
The research commission reached the conclusions after sending questionnaires to 613 residents, white-collar workers, and bosses of medium-size and small enterprises.
"It is the first time the Shanghai People's Congress Standing Committee has invited third parties to sift through the proposals, and the procedure involving think tanks and grass-roots residents reflects the pursuit of democratic and scientific legislation," said Liu Hua, director of the Legislative Affairs Office of the Shanghai municipal government.
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