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Dalian FTZ ranks third in fDi Magazine's best free zones

chinadaily.com.cn| Updated: October 22, 2021


Financial Times’ fDi Magazine has released its Global Free Zones of the Year 2021, recognizing the world’s best free zones for fDi. The Dalian Free Trade Zone ranked third and was the Asia-Pacific winner, while in a single evaluation, won the SME results, best free zone for large tenants, excellence award for infrastructure investment, and honorable mention for aquaculture.

In the global top 10, China had two FTZ entries, with the Dalian Free Trade Zone ranked third and Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone fourth. The DMCC set the benchmark, followed by the Mauritius Freeport.

FDi’s Global Free Zones of the Year 2021 were chosen by six independent judges – four external and two from the fDi team – assessing 70 zones that submitted entries this year.

The Dalian Free Trade Zone in the Liaoning peninsula — the biggest zone in northern China and the zone with the highest number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) among all participating zones with more than 27,000 SMEs active within its territory at the end of 2020 — won as the best zone in the Asia-Pacific region. Chinese zones have been testbeds for policy reforms and industrial innovation since the introduction of the first zones in the 1980s, and the Dalian Free Trade Zone continues to uphold this tradition.

Following the introduction of the country’s 2060 zero-emission targets, the zone has drawn up its own zero-emission strategy centered around hydrogen, wind power and building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV). A dedicated hydrogen industrial park is now being developed, while the zone management launched a BIPV initiative with State-owned China Energy to transform buildings and plants across its territory into BIPV, energy-efficient properties.

The zone has also become instrumental to China’s dual circulation strategy aimed at reorienting industrial production towards the domestic market. As its survey entry reads, it helped Haier Dalian enter the dual circulation strategy, and by doing so Haier Dalian achieved a 37-percent increase in refrigerator output -- reaching 820,000 units in 2020 alone, despite the pandemic.

The zone is also in the middle of a big infrastructure push. It upgraded its three bonded zones, opened the Dalian Free Trade Zone International Expo Center in May 2021 and is gearing up to reap logistics benefits from the adjacent $4billion Dalian New Airport, which is currently under construction and is scheduled to come online in 2025.



The Dalian Free Trade Zone in the Liaoning peninsula. [Photo/VCG]