By JIAN ER Express staff
The export processing zone (EPZ) has played an active role in hastening China¡¯s openingup and standardizing the administration of processing trade since it was launched in 2000, Gong Zheng, vice-administrator of the General Administration of Customs, said yesterday during seminar in Xiamen.
    EPZ is a closed manufacturing area designed for exportoriented companies. In addition to preferential policies like tax breaks, they provide onestop customs declaration and clearance, product inspections and quarantine and logistics services.
    China has established a total of 38 EPZs, most of which are located in coastal areas, according to Gong.
    Currently, 21 qualified EPZs have received official approval and have been put into operation.
    As of July this year, the 21 One-stop customs service increases trade efficiency EPZs had accommodated 447 domestic and foreign companies, with a total investment of US$4.75 billion and an importexport value of US$11.73 billion.
    ¡°It is a very encouraging result as EPZs are only at the infancy stage in China,¡± Gong said.
    ¡°Considering the rapid development of EPZs in China, it is expected that the total import and export value of the country¡¯s EPZs (for this year) will double that of 2002 and reach US$10 billion.¡± Up to six new EPZs will receive verification and be put into operation in the second half of the year, which will further enhance the role of the zones in the country¡¯s economic development, he added.
    Speaking to about 150 people yesterday, Gong said the EPZs were effective means for export-oriented manufacturing companies to strengthen their competitiveness as they largely streamlined the customs clearance process, helping to reduce the delivery time of goods.
    Compared with free trade zones, EPZ usually shortens the clearance process by two to three days.
    Karen Ting, vice-president of Quanta Group, a leading Taiwan-based information technology firm, said at the seminar yesterday that she was most impressed by the one-stop customs service offered by EPZ.
    Sharing her investment experience in the Shanghai Songjiang EPZ, she said the company could complete its customs clearance within four hours, instead of the usual two to three days, thanks to the streamlined procedures.
    When asked whether the customs authorities will introduce further initiatives, Gong revealed that the General Administration of Customs is now revising EPZ regulations to make them even more flexible.

From Page 1
During the first six sessions, CIFIT saw 12,350 contracts signed with a contractual value of US$70 billion.
    Persisting with its target of promoting investment, a series of some 40 seminars and forums will be highlights of the latest Fair.
    The forums and seminars cover such heated topics as the improvement of China's regulations and laws since its World Trade Organization entry, antidumping issues, co-operation among regional economic areas, transnational mergers, logistics and investment environments, and policy introduction in Latin American countries.
    As an acknowledgement of CIFIT's worldwide influence, UNCTAD ¡ª for the first time ¡ª released its latest World Investment Report in Xiamen.
    Aiming to explore further opportunities for its members during the annual event, such overseas governmental and semi-governmental organizations as the China-Britain Business Council, the Invest in Sweden Agency and the Singapore Chamber of Commerce are all in the coastal city this year.
    Vice-Premier Wu Yi, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Chief Executive Tung Chee-Hwa and Macao Special Administrative Region Chief Executive Edmund Ho are among those taking part in the four-day event, in addition to others like the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee Vice-President Zhang Kehui, Commerce Minister Lu Fuyuan, Fujian Governor Lu Zhangong, Dale Marshall, minister of Barbados' Industrial and International Ministry, and Robert A. Kapp, president of the US-China Business Council.
    As China's only State-level promotional investment fair, it is a must for serious investors from around the globe.
 
  HU MEIDONG/Express  
Fan Jiarong (centre), vice-head of Yongding County in Fujian Province, puts pen to paper with overseas business people yesterday during the ongoing CIFIT.
By HU YAN Express staff
As Zhang Liangxin, a Hong Kong businessman, signed a co-operation contract with Longyan County yesterday, he finally realized his dream to invest for his former homeland. ¡°I left Longyan (in East China¡¯s Fujian Province) for Hong Kong in 1979. The idea of coming back to invest has lingered with me for many years,¡± said Zhang, who will sink US$1.52 million into the Mintai Environment Protection Facilities Co in Longyan.
    The county¡¯s agreement with Zhang is among the 38 contracts it has signed so far during the China International Fair for Investment and Trade (CIFIT) with investors from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macao and foreign countries.
    They total US$214.8 million and cover a wide range of areas from automobiles and vehicle parts to real estate and agriculture.
    ¡°Although the CIFIT provides us with a broader platform for seeking foreign and domestic investment, such an achievement has already exceeded our expectations,¡± said Chen Dejing, director of the Longyan Economic and Technology Development Zone.
    In addition to Longyan, Fujian Province has so far signed contracts for about 26 key projects.
    About 10 provinces and municipalities including Fujian, Tianjing and Guizhou held signing ceremonies with domestic and overseas investors yesterday in the main hall of the Xiamen International Exhibition Centre.
    For western China¡¯s Guizhou Province, this year¡¯s work of introducing investment during the Fair has been most successful in terms of contracted projects and their coverage.
    It has signed agreements for 47 projects worth a total of 19.77 billion yuan (US$2.39 billion) with famous companies such as Hong Kong¡¯s Shui¡¯an Group.
    The total foreign investment for 17 projects has a value of US$1.79 billion with a contractual investment of US$899 million.
    The projects include forestry, food processing, water and electrical development, and road and building construction.