China’s Free Trade Zones Open Further to Foreign Investment

Posted by Reading Time: 4 minutes

By Dezan Shira & Associates
Editor: Jake Liddle

Last month, the State Council announced plans to adjust regulations regarding foreign investment into the Tianjin, Shanghai, Fujian and Guangdong free trade zones (FTZs), which will significantly affect application and entry procedures.

The adjustments are split two ways – some that simplify application procedures and the operation of foreign invested or joint venture enterprises, and others that open once restricted sectors to foreign investment. Either way, it is important for investors looking to enter or already in these FTZs to be aware of these latest regulatory adjustments.

Below, we detail the industries in which previous restrictive related content or regulations have been temporarily suspended, thus allowing the involvement of foreign invested companies:

ftz table

Additionally, the government lifted the restrictions on foreign investors wishing to partake in the purchase of grain, wholesale of cotton and grain and operation and construction of large scale agricultural product wholesale market in all the three FTZs. The requirements of Mainland holdings for Sino-Taiwanese joint ventures engaged in crop production (except cotton and oil crops), breeding of new crop varieties (except transgenic) and seed production (except GM products) have also been temporarily suspended in the Fujian FTZ.

Professional Service_CB icons_2015RELATED: Pre-Investment and Entry Strategy Advisory

For sectors not included in the FTZs’ Negative List for Foreign Investment – which determines which industries foreign companies can invest in – the following conditions will be temporarily suspended and replaced with a filing administration system in all FTZs:

  • Approval of foreign investment projects
  • Approval of establishment of foreign invested enterprises (FIEs), Sino-foreign joint ventures or Taiwanese invested enterprises;
  • Merging or separation of FIEs, or any other such reasons which cause significant change to capital approval;
  • Changes to the amount of registered capital requirements for FIEs or Sino-foreign joint venture;
  • Foreign mortgage or transfer approval of property owned by FIEs;
  • Approval of contribution by foreign or Sino-foreign investors.
  • Approval of the operation period of FIEs.
  • Approval of Sino-foreign joint venture equity transfer.
  • Approval of Sino-Foreign joint funded/joint venture disbandment.
  • Approval of major changes to the contract, agreement or rules of a Sino-foreign joint venture.
  • Reduction of registered capital of a Sino-foreign joint venture.
  • Approval of the transfer of rights as stipulated in the contract of a Sino-foreign joint venture.
  • Approval of Sino-foreign joint venture entrustment of operation management contracts.
  • Approval of examination and ratification of a foreign partner’s advance recovery investment report.
  • Approval of extension of Sino-foreign joint venture cooperation period.
  • Temporarily cancel special requirements for foreign-invested enterprises to obtain certification of organization qualifications.

These adjustments open up and simplify the entry procedures for a significant amount of new sectors. The duration of temporary suspension and the cancellation of restrictive policies have not yet been disclosed, but it is safe to say that these adjustments signal further steps towards opening up investment into the trade zones, and will provide increased opportunities for foreign companies.


Asia Briefing Ltd. is a subsidiary of Dezan Shira & Associates. Dezan Shira is a specialist foreign direct investment practice, providing corporate establishment, business advisory, tax advisory and compliance, accounting, payroll, due diligence and financial review services to multinationals investing in China, Hong Kong, India, Vietnam, Singapore and the rest of ASEAN. For further information, please email or visit

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