China's central government has given the nod to 12 free trade zones (FTZs) following the one in Shanghai, amid a spurt of nationwide enthusiasm for such schemes.
Tianjin Municipality and Guangdong Province have been green-lit to set up FTZs, a source with knowledge of the approval told Xinhua-run Economic Information Daily on Wednesday, refusing to leak the remaining 10.
After consent from the cabinet, a group of central government departments will conduct a joint survey of the proposed zones, and hammer out specific establishment plans in a process that may last more than a year, said the source.
So far, Tianjin and Guangdong have completed the survey part, which the other 10 have just started, according to the source.
Provincial regions including Zhejiang, Shandong, Liaoning, Henan, Fujian, Sichuan, Guangxi and Yunnan, and cities including Suzhou, Wuxi and Hefei have all said that filing FTZ applications is high up their 2014 priority list.
"China sets no limits on FTZ numbers and no timetables on building them, as long as they meet the requirements of an FTZ," added the source.
Huo Jianguo, head of a research institute with China's Commerce Ministry, said the emerging FTZs could be testing grounds for further opening-up policies, and serve as the bright spot of the country's economic development.
Last September, China established the Shanghai FTZ, the first of its kind, as a national strategic trial to further tap market forces and push market-oriented trade and investment reforms.