China to boost Hainan's duty-free status, commitment to opening up
By Dong Xue
Beijing hopes the first edition of the China International Consumer Products Expo can enhance the status of Hainan as a free-trade port and promote China's high-level opening up. But why was this southern island province chosen, and what can overseas companies and domestic consumers expect from the expo?
With a total exhibition area of 80,000 square meters, the expo is set to be the largest in the Asia-Pacific region.
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit China and many countries hard, but they're starting to think about the future once again, and where better to look than this expo in Hainan?
But you might wonder why this southern Chinese island in particular.
While the world has a host of free-trade and special economic zones, few can compare to Hainan. First of all, it's being designated a free-trade port (FTP), which gives it even more freedom.
Hainan island much bigger than China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) or Singapore, and the FTP will cover the whole of the island.
Its geographical position between the Chinese mainland and the ever-expanding economies of southeast Asia should also be taken into account.
The partnership between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is expanding every year, and, as Chinese President Xi Jinping said about Hainan's potential last year, "a diamond decade is lying ahead."
The port was only established last June, but its special policies, in terms of tax breaks and the scrapping of tariffs, are already attracting overseas interest.
And, it's not just for companies. Ordinary individuals can also benefit from the free trade port.
Apart from "Made in China" products, hundreds of overseas exhibitors and more than 1,000 global brands are expected to be at the expo, with their latest and finest consumer products.
These include Swatch from Switzerland, Swarovski from Austria, Panasonic and Shiseido from Japan, and Dell, Tesla and Coach from the United States.
China hopes the expo can show the world the sheer potential of Hainan. It's a long-term project with opportunities and challenges along the way. But by 2050, it's hoped Hainan will have the infrastructure and other things in place to be comparable with free-trade hubs like the Hong Kong SAR and Singapore.