Caixin
Jul 26, 2021 09:29 PM
ECONOMY

Hainan Promises to Put Foreign Service Providers on Equal Footing, Mostly

The State Council Information Office holds a press conference in Beijing to introduce the negative list. Photo: VCG.
The State Council Information Office holds a press conference in Beijing to introduce the negative list. Photo: VCG.

China’s Ministry of Commerce published a negative list (link in Chinese) Monday for the cross-border services trade in the island province of Hainan that promises to put foreign firms and individuals on equal footing with domestic peers, provided their businesses don’t violate 70 restrictions in 11 industries.

The negative list (link in Chinese) for the Hainan Free Trade Port includes industries such as transportation, information technology, and finance. In areas outside the scope of the list, however, all service providers, be they Chinese or foreign, will be entitled to “equal treatment and market access,” Wang Shouwen, a vice commerce minister, said at a Monday briefing (link in Chinese).

Once the list takes effect on Aug. 26, overseas businesses and individuals will be allowed to provide a range of services or work in capacities previously restricted by the government.

For non-Chinese mainland residents living or working in Hainan, these include opening securities and futures accounts to trade in China’s onshore markets, and obtaining the license to work as futures investment consultants. At the same time, lawyers across the world can now join law firms registered in Hainan as legal counsel and can work in commercial nonlitigation legal matters at the Hainan offices of overseas law firms. In addition, foreign teachers with a bachelor’s degree will be exempt from the two-year experience requirement needed to teach in the province.

Also, overseas businesses will now be able to provide services such as market research, customs clearance and ship inspection more freely, Wang said.

The new policy came in as Hainan seeks to make itself more attractive to foreign talent, especially investors and executives, who have become increasingly interested in setting up offices on the island, with its warm weather and relaxed lifestyle.

The negative list is the first such list specifically designed for cross-border services trade made by China’s central government. It is expected to boost Hainan’s services industries.

In the first half of the year, the services sector accounted for more than 61% of Hainan’s GDP (link in Chinese) and contributed nearly 80% of the province’s economic growth, according to data released Tuesday by the Hainan Provincial Bureau of Statistics.

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Contact editor Michael Bellart (michaelbellart@caixin.com)

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