Shanghai FTZ has inbuilt advantages

Updated: 2013-10-22 08:11

By Mei Xinyu (China Daily)

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For decades, investors had been parking their assets in the US dollar or the Swiss franc. Now, with China's rapid economic growth and bright future, it is highly likely that the yuan will find their favor. But for that to happen, China has to make financial innovations and offer more services to meet the needs of Chinese as well as foreign nationals. Authorities should know that the more China opens up and develops its financial sector, the more foreigners will invest in the country's financial assets.

But unlike in developed countries, a majority of the foreign investors in China will come from emerging market economies, which, in turn, will force their Western partners to accept the yuan as a currency of transaction.

The likelihood of such a trend is becoming more obvious because of the crisis triggered by major Western central banks' decision to taper off their quantitative easing policies and the fall in then prices of primary products. China as a stable and fast-developing economy is likely to become more appealing to capital from the emerging market economies, making the yuan a new favorite of investors.

There are three types of offshore financial centers. In cities like London and Hong Kong, which have been financial centers for long, offshore financial services are mixed with domestic financial services, and the capital flow is highly liberalized.

In the second type, established and encouraged by local governments, the authorities usually grant non-residents favorable tax policies, but forbid them from running domestic business. In such centers, such as New York, Singapore, Tokyo and Bangkok, offshore financial services are separated from domestic financial services.

Centers that make up the last type, more generally called tax havens, usually have favorable tax policies that attract many financial institutions to register their businesses, which, however, are mostly conducted in other countries. The Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, Bermuda and Cyprus are examples of such offshore financial hubs.

The Shanghai FTZ differs from all three. Its offshore financial services may be more like London's and Hong Kong's, but in some parts of the zone offshore and domestic businesses cannot be mixed. This arrangement, combined with the support from the real economy, will give the Shanghai FTZ a great advantage in global competition.

The author is a researcher at the International Trade and Economic Cooperation Institute of the Ministry of Commerce.

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