The first working meeting of the Hainan Free Trade Port-ASEAN Think Tank Network, held on May 13, focused on how to contribute to the strengthening of economic cooperation and trade between China and ASEAN and to enable the Hainan Free Trade Port to play the role of a strategic hub promoting trade, investment and cooperation.

At the second business meeting held recently, we discussed how the network could better carry out its work in the future.

One of the main goals of building the Hainan Free Trade Port is to turn Hainan into an important hub and market for comprehensive cooperation between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. , and make full use of its geographical and openness advantages, so that it can play a pivotal role in promoting broader and higher-level cooperation and exchanges between China and ASEAN. , better connect the two most dynamic markets and advance the process of regional economic integration.

Chinese companies willing to invest in ASEAN

Many Chinese companies want to use the Hainan Free Trade Port as a base for investing and deepening cooperation with their counterparts in ASEAN member states. According to a survey of Chinese enterprises, 56% of respondents said they plan to enter the ASEAN market, and 60% said they want to increase investment in the ASEAN market and expand cooperation with ASEAN companies over the next 12 months, indicating that Chinese companies are still keen to consolidate their presence in ASEAN member states.

In fact, the percentage of Chinese companies planning to enter the ASEAN market is expected to increase to 66% in the next three years or so, and their investment in ASEAN could increase by 25-50%.

In view of this request, the China Institute for Reform and Development said in March that the construction of “two headquarters” in the Hainan free trade port should be considered a major task – one for help Chinese enterprises to enter the ASEAN market, the other for ASEAN. enterprises to enter the Chinese market.

The opportunity for Chinese companies to use the Hainan Free Trade Port as a base for investing in ASEAN states and enhancing cooperation with their ASEAN counterparts is immense, as the port’s opening policies free trade policies such as the “15% corporate income tax rate policy”, the “foreign investment income tax exemption policy” and the “zero duty policy for the importation of products and important parts” are attracting a growing number of Chinese companies to settle in Hainan.

Integration of Chinese and ASEAN markets

In the coming years, a more realistic and pragmatic way to stabilize China-ASEAN industrial and supply chains and achieve deeper integration of Chinese and ASEAN markets would be to use the free trade port as a basis for providing facilitation services to the Chinese. companies to invest in the ASEAN market.

How to provide intellectual support to Chinese companies to enter the ASEAN market?

Hainan has explored specific measures and political and institutional arrangements to build “headquarters bases,” but some thorny issues have yet to be resolved. For example, which Chinese companies can meet the specific needs of which ASEAN member industries and therefore should invest in the ASEAN market or establish cooperation with ASEAN companies? How big is the ASEAN market space? How to better utilize the advantages of the Hainan Free Trade Port in promoting China-ASEAN cooperation? What kind of policies will help ASEAN companies increase their share in the Chinese market through the free trade port?

Objectively speaking, in the short term, the delay in building the financial services system remains a weak point of the Hainan Free Trade Port as it cannot yet ensure the entry of Chinese enterprises into the market. ASEAN.

Companies can use HK to invest in ASEAN

Hong Kong is the premier financial center in the comprehensive regional economic partnership area, and its stock market owes about 80% of its value to companies on the Chinese mainland, and more than 80 multinational corporations headquartered in the ASEAN are already listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Thus, to enable Chinese enterprises to enter the ASEAN market using Hainan Free Trade Port as a base, the network is expected to help integrate Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s financial services into industrial chains. China-ASEAN.

There is also a need to intensify joint research on the issue and make the necessary policy arrangements and alignment of standards.

As a bridge between governments and business, the network’s think tanks are invited to conduct policy research aimed in particular at helping businesses meet their business needs and providing them with the assistance needed to formulate industrial guidelines to take full advantage of the free trade port as a platform to help Chinese and ASEAN enterprises achieve better cooperation results.

How to build institutionalized platforms to help Chinese companies enter the ASEAN market?

For starters, this can be done by Hainan Free Trade Port and ASEAN co-hosting regular exchange and cooperation forums. Indeed, the China Institute for Reform and Development, with the support of the China Ocean Development Foundation, is preparing to organize an international forum at the end of October on “exchange and cooperation between the Hainan Free Trade Port and the ‘ASEAN’. The forum will discuss how best to use the free trade port as a base to facilitate Chinese companies’ investment in the ASEAN market. The institute is also preparing to hold an offline forum on “Global Free Trade Port Development” later this year or early next year.

Moving to realize the potential of SMEs

Small and medium enterprises in China and the ASEAN states account for more than 90% of all businesses. To mobilize the talent resources of the network and ensure that SMEs realize their full potential and contribute more to regional development and China-ASEAN cooperation, the network aims to co-organize training seminars on capacity building.

As for the China Institute for Reform and Development, it is preparing to organize a training seminar on capacity building for the development of the blue economy within the framework of the RCEP. We hope that the experts attending these forums and seminars will suggest how ASEAN state governments and businesses can better develop their blue economy and build their capacity.

The Hainan Free Trade Port-ASEAN Think Tank Network and the China Institute for Reform and Development also suggest that mutual academic visits and exchanges between visiting scholars be organized, and that camps for young talents from member think tanks be set up. .

This is an edited excerpt from the opening speech by Chi Fulin, President of the China Institute for Reform and Development, at the Second Working Meeting of the Hainan Free Trade Port and Port Think Tank Network ASEAN. Opinions do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.