HAIKOU: When Randy Floyd came to south China’s Hainan province six years ago, it was just for work. But the local policies were “so advantageous” that he soon decided to open his own company here.
“I had no idea how long I would stay in China or in Hainan. But now, seeing the rapid progress of the free trade port and all the policies, the free flow of people, information and money, I want to stay here for as long as possible,” said Floyd, who is from the United States.
Currently running an English foreign language consultation company in Haikou, the provincial capital, Floyd speaks highly of the various policies in Hainan.
“The government is very supportive, and also the innovation parks here are very supportive to help companies with everything they might need to do,” he said. “Even if you can’t speak Chinese, they will help you do everything.”
Floyd is among the abundant talent coming to Hainan as the island province continues deepening its reform and opening up.
Hainan was once a backwater where residents were engaged in fishing or farming, but through the continuous construction of free trade zones and the Hainan Free Trade Port (FTP) over the past decade, it is now a vivid example of China’s reform and high-level opening up.
Hainan has hosted a series of diplomatic, economic and cultural gatherings, which have greatly raised the island’s profile and exposed the province to the latest business practices and pioneering services.
Major reform and opening up policies have been rolled out in a variety of sectors. The province’s most notable progress is the construction of the Hainan FTP.
On April 13, 2018, China announced it would support Hainan in developing the whole island into a pilot free trade zone and in gradually exploring and steadily promoting the establishment of an FTP with Chinese characteristics.
A master plan was rolled out in June 2020 to build the island into a globally influential and high-level FTP by the middle of the century.
Many favorable policies have since been issued to support the development of the Hainan FTP, including the implementation of zero tariffs, and the easing of market and foreign investment access.
Zhang Youhui, deputy general manager of Hainan Jinhai Pulp and Paper, said the FTP’s streamlining of import procedures meant that when his company recently imported 53,000 tons of coal, it was no longer required to apply for an automatic import license prior to customs declaration.
“In the past, we needed to apply for a license for each batch of imported coal, which we did at least once a month,” Zhang said. The company is located in the Yangpu Economic Development Zone, a pioneer and demonstration area for the Hainan FTP. “The new policies save time and make things much easier.”
Official data shows the rapid development of the import and export of goods at the Hainan FTP. After exceeding 100 billion yuan (about $13.9 billion) in 2021, the total volume of trade in goods exceeded 200 billion yuan in 2022, with an annual growth rate of 36.8 percent.
By the end of July this year, the total value of imported goods under the FTP’s zero tariff policies had exceeded 18 billion yuan.
As the construction of the FTP gains steam, Hainan’s foreign investment has also grown.
In the first half of this year, Hainan saw the establishment of 732 foreign-invested companies, up 3.5 percent year on year. The actual use of foreign capital totaled 13.37 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 23.3 percent. During the first six months, 63 countries and regions invested in Hainan.
Reforms have also been carried out in the environment sector. As a national ecological civilization pilot zone, Hainan has launched six landmark projects, including the construction of the National Park of the Hainan Tropical Rainforest. So far, at least 28 new wild animal and plant species have been discovered in the park.
Yu Tao, a Hainan FTP researcher at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, said that Hainan has made remarkable achievements in economic and social development over the past 10 years.
“For example, Hainan has opened up wider to the outside world through international forums such as the Boao Forum for Asia and the China International Consumer Products Expo,” Yu said. “Hainan also made great efforts to advance the construction of the national ecological civilization pilot zone.”
These examples all show that over the past 10 years, Hainan has been “accurately and completely implementing the new development philosophy” under the central leadership to promote the comprehensive deepening of reform and opening up, he said.