Shanghai free trade zone experiment on finance and economic policy

By Marc Castro

Sep 29, 2013 06:01 AM EDT

Shanghai's free trade zone would have Citigroup Inc and Bank of China Ltd as participants in the eleven square mile experiment. The zone would have financial and investment controls and was to be inaugurated today.

The two banking giants were the first announce their participation in the free trade zone. The aim of the zone is to create an efficient and open economic system, according to China's Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng during the opening ceremony. It would also be the test area for free market policies of Premier Li Keqiang, which may later be implemented in China as a whole. Premier Li together with President Xi Jinping are implementing policies to reduce the government's participation in the economic and finance system, which are expected to gain support from the plenary session of the Communist Party by November.

Other banks such as DBS Bank and Bank of Communications Co also announced the receipt of regulatory approval to set up shop in the free trade zone. About eight domestic banks and foreign institutions were issued licenses to operate. Acccording to DBS (China) Ltd CEO Neil Ge in an email said, "(The zone) is an important milestone in China's efforts to build an international financial center and to reform and reinvigorate its economy for longer term economic viability."

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