The Chinese government has stated that it is formally expanding Shanghai’s Free-Trade Zone (FTZ) to include the Lingang area, which hosts the site of Tesla’s Gigafactory 3. The update comes amidst a set of new tax incentives and import duty exemptions, which are being rolled out amid China’s continued trade tensions with the United States.
The plan to expand the FTZ was revealed by the State Council, China’s cabinet, in an announcement on Tuesday. The addition of the Lingang area, which is around the same size as the Hong Kong special administrative region, will roughly double the size of the Free Trade Zone.
China’s vice-commerce minister Wang Shouwen, who is among the country’s delegation in its trade talks with Washington, highlighted Beijing’s commitment to the expansion of the FTZ. “The expansion of the Shanghai FTZ is also an important step to demonstrate China’s clear stand for all-round opening up in the new era and its active role in guiding the healthy development of economic globalization,” Wang said.
With trade tensions with the United States hitting 13 months to date, Wang noted that Beijing would not hesitate to open its markets further, irrespective of developments in China’s trade ties with other countries. Speaking about these developments to the South China Morning Post, Shanghai vice-mayor Chen Yin noted that duties would also be deferred, or in some instances, not even collected, on certain products that are shipped through the new Lingang area.
“Goods from abroad entering the fenced customs areas of the new area will be under bonded or tax exemptions,” Chen said.
The formal addition of the Lingang area to Shanghai’s Free Trade Zone has been expected for some time, especially after Chinese President Xi Jinping stated last November that the FTZ would be expanded as a way for the country to deepen economic reforms and open up its market. Cao Hua, a partner at Unity Asset Management, a private equity firm, explained this in a statement.
“It is a vast area that can accommodate mega-manufacturing projects, commercial complexes, and entertainment facilities. The announcement about its inclusion in the FTZ is not a surprise, but it boils down to whether land resources and financial capital will be used effectively to turn Lingang into a boomtown,” Cao noted.
The formal inclusion of the Lingang area bodes well for Tesla, whose electric car manufacturing facility is nearing completion. The progress of Gigafactory 3’s construction has been rapid, with local media reports stating that trial Model 3 production runs could begin as early as September, ramping to a manufacturing rate of 3,000 vehicles per week once operations are fully underway.