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Taiwanese lawmakers to visit Shanghai free trade zone on Sept. 3

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A delegation from the Legislative Yuan will visit the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone in September to gain a better understanding of the operations of the special trade area in China, lawmakers said Saturday.

Lai Shyh-bao, a lawmaker of the ruling Kuomintang, and Lee Ying- yuan, from the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, have organized the delegation that will visit Shanghai Sept. 3-5, and the free trade zone will be one of their stops.

China opened the Shanghai free trade zone in September last year as a model for future market-opening reforms. Several cities and provinces in China, such as Tianjin and Guangdong, have lobbied the Chinese authorities to issue a green light for them to set up similar free trade zones.

There were originally 190 sectors in which foreign investors faced restrictions, but that was reduced to 139 July 1 this year, when some barriers on investment in the financial services and real estate sectors, among others, were lifted.

Sources from Lai's office said the visit is aimed at learning about the development of the pilot trade policy in China. The delegation will also survey the businesses of Taiwanese financial institutions stationed in the Chinese city.

As of the end of June, Taiwanese financial institutions had set up about 40 outlets in the city, according to the Shanghai municipal government.

More and more local financial institutions are keen to establish footholds in Shanghai to serve the many Taiwanese manufacturers there amid warming business ties across the Taiwan Strait.

Lee said the legislative delegation wants to get a better sense about how Taiwanese banks operating branches in Shanghai are conducting Chinese yuan-denominated businesses there.

Lee added that the lawmakers are also eager to know whether Taiwanese investors operating in the city have obtained equal footing to their Chinese counterparts.

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