Debate on Free Trade Zone Policy

FTZ Policy at CCL

Centre for Common Law, Renmin University of China, November 14th 2014

A series of measures to make the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone more attractive for both Chinese and foreign investors were proposed at a seminar at the Common Law Centre in Beijing run jointly by Renmin University Law School and the Great Britain China Centre on November 14th.

The measures, including replacement of the requirement for approval from investing companies with a simple filing process, further liberalizing foreign exchange control and the legal framework for mergers and acquisitions were presented by Melissa Thomas, a partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s Shanghai office, in a paper delivered as part of a British initiative to cooperate with the Chinese government on FTZ development.

Lord Faulks, Britain’s Minister of State for Civil Justice and Legal Policy, said the UK was willing to share its experience in legal frameworks and to help China in its plans to develop free trade zones and other reforms. He said the creation of the Common Law Centre — a 3-way partnership between Renmin Law School, Oxford University and GBCC — was a great example of innovative UK-China collaboration.

Ms Thomas said it would also be easier for investors if the Shanghai FTZ had a clear set of rules and consistent interpretation, harmonized the regulatory requirements for Chinese and foreign invested companies, allowed the choice of foreign law for domestic derivative transactions and were able to permit more options for arbitration by recognized international institutions.

A series of Chinese experts explained Chinese perspectives on the FTZs, and clarified that the Shanghai zone was a three-year pilot to test out methodology. FTZs in other cities would each have their own areas of specialization. The seminar was jointly organized by the Common Law Centre, the British Embassy and GBCC with support from TheCityUK, which chairs the UK’s International Expert Consultation Group that is producing a range of policy suggestions to help China with its reform plans, as part of an initiative agreed by Prime Minister David Cameron and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

Lord Faulks was making a three-day visit to China for talks with Chinese Ministry of Justice, the Supreme People’s Court and other Chinese organisations.

He later gave a talk to students at Renmin University on British experience in developing the rule of law, which he said began with the signing of the Magna Carta nearly 800 years ago which curbed the power of the King. Dean Han Dayuan of Renmin Law School said the Common Law Centre planned to hold a symposium on the Magna Carta in Beijing next September to mark its 800th anniversary in 2015, inviting experts from Oxford and elsewhere.

Lord Faulks said Britain was hosting a Global Law Summit conference of 2000 legal experts and practitioners and businesses in London in February to mark the anniversary, and hoped that China would send a delegation to take part. He later handed an invitation to the Chinese Ministry of Justice to attend.

Date posted: 20 November 2014

Categories: Rule of Law and Business Environment, Centre for Common Law

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