According to Zhao Feng, deputy chief representative of the Representative Office in the European Union (Belgium) of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), the Hainan free trade port (FTP) in southern China is a national strategy and a priority for the Chinese government to promote high-quality opening and opportunities to the world. Speaking to Xinhua at a ceremony to present the port’s assets, Zhao emphasized that the port offers incentives to the global business community, such as low tax rates, high-tech transportation and industry, and highly qualified personnel.
China unveiled a plan for the port in 2018, with the goal of turning the island province into a top-tier FTP with global influence by mid-century. In the last five years, the Hainan free trade zone has made significant progress in liberalizing and facilitating investment and trade. The success story of Belgian company PB Leiner, which has been operating in China since October 2022, is indicative of the benefits of the Hainan FTP.
According to Wim Poot, executive vice president of PB Leiner and producer of gelatin and collagen from pigskin, beef, and fish, the company was attracted to Hainan due to its large base for aquaculture, especially tilapia. Poot stated that China is a large market with “less political risk” and a guarantee of stability and security for investors. The Hainan free trade zone enables foreign companies to produce in China, not just for the domestic market, but also for export to other countries, including Japan, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, North America, and Europe.
The port’s ease of doing business and availability of workers are significant advantages, with Poot noting that even in Europe or North America, finding employees and workers is still a problem. Since its establishment in 2018, the Hainan FTP has provided many attractive prospects for commerce and free trade with the world. As of January 2023, Hainan had exempted nearly 3 billion yuan (436 million U.S. dollars) of import duties for goods subject to zero tariffs and processing trade.