Negative list for cross-border trade in services enter into force in Hainan

A negative list for cross-border trade in services in Hainan province, which is also China's first negative list for the services trade, came into force on August 26. The negative list outlines 70 special measures in 11 categories for overseas services providers. For areas not included in the list, domestic and foreign companies shall have a level playing field and enjoy equal access in the Hainan free trade port. The negative list also updates the requirements for some specific industries, giving overseas companies more leeway.

For example, overseas individuals are allowed to apply to open securities or futures accounts in Hainan; overseas shipping examination companies are allowed to send staff to the Chinese mainland to carry out ship inspections even if they don't set up subsidiaries in the mainland, and restrictions are scrapped for overseas yachts to apply for pilotage that allows them to enter or leave Hainan. These changes will make overseas companies more confident of expanding in Hainan, as they look for restrictions to be lifted further along with China's opening-up. An employee from a Hong Kong-based yacht sales and charter company that has established a subsidiary in Sanya, Hainan, said that lifting restrictions on foreign yachts entering and leaving local ports will definitely benefit enterprises. “As a result of policy easing, foreign yacht companies are willing to invest more resources and capital to attract foreign yachts and clients to Hainan,” the person told the Global Times. Previously, foreign yachts in Hainan faced multiple restrictions, such as limiting the number of people on board, and the sailing distance.

The further opening up of Hainan's services sector attracted more companies. In the first half of this year, Hainan's 11 key industrial parks saw the establishment of 16,025 companies, up 266% on a yearly basis. Liang Haiming, Dean of Hainan University's Belt and Road Research Institute, suggested that Hainan should first analyze if foreign companies are interested in investing in Hainan in high technologies such as big data, before rolling out more targeted policies to attract investment. Dong Dengxin, Director of the Finance and Securities Institute at Wuhan University of Science and Technology, said that “China is molding Hainan into an experimental area for services sector reforms, with higher-level opening-up compared with other free trade zones in China,” the Global Times reports.