Free Trade Zones 自贸区


Update on 8th April 2015

The State Council of the People’s Republic of China announced the “Special Administrative Measure (the Negative Lists) Regarding the Admission of Foreign Investors into Pilot Free Trade Zones” under decree No. Guo Ban Fa [2015] 023 on 8th April 2015.


The negative list covers the following 15 industrial sectors.


  1. Agriculture, forestry, animal forming and fishery
  2. Mineral extraction
  3. Manufacturing
  4. Production and supply of electricity, heat, gas and water
  5. Wholesale and distribution of goods
  6. Transportation, storage and postal services
  7. Data transfer, software and IT services
  8. Financial service
  9. Leasing and commercial services
  10. Scientific research and technical services
  11. Water projects, management of environmental and public utilities
  12. Education services
  13. Health and social work
  14. Cultural, sports and entertainment services
  15. All industrial sectors

The Chinese texts in full are available at the website of the State Council: [Free Trade Zone], [Diagram]


Update before 8th April 2015

Free Trade Zones are located in Shanghai, Qianhai (Shenzhen), Hengqin (Zhuhai) and Nansha (Guangzhou),

Different legal rules shall apply to foreign investment enterprises (the FIE) set up inside and outside the Free Trade Zone. 

To set up an FIE outside the free trade zones, the foreign investor must obtain administrative approval. The Ministry of Commerce or its sub-organizations at local levels, in exercising the power to grant the approval, will consider whether the application falls under any one of the investment categories: prohibited category, restricted category, permitted category and encouraged category.   

To set up an FIE insidte the free trade zones, the foreign investor is not required to obtain the adminstrative approval. The foreign investor is required to follow a registration procedure only. Foreign investment inside the free trade zones is not divided into four categories. Instead, a negative list is in place for admission of foreign investment. If the proposed business falls within the scope of the negative list, the foreign investor will not be admitted to the free trade zone. If the proposed business falls outside the scope of the negative list, the foreign investor will be given a green light to go ahead. 

There is no distinction between domestic and foreign investment in respect of the admission to industries. The foreign investor and foreign investment will receive national treatment inside the free trade zone.

Set out below is the 2014 version of negative list for admission of foreign investment to Shanghai. It is expected that the 2015 version of negative lists will be announced on 1st March 2015.


Update on 29th December 2014

The decision by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress to delegate its power to the State Council to make temporary adjustments to the administrative approvals in the expansion areas of the Guangdong, Tianjin, Fujian and Shangahi free trade pilot zones in accordance with the laws

全国人民代表大会常务委员会关于授权国务院在中国(广东)自由贸易试验区、中国(天津)自由贸易试验区、中国(福建)自由贸易试验区以及中国(上海)自由贸易试验区扩展区域暂时调整有关法律规定的行政审批的决定 [Read]