Since the official unveiling of Beijing’s pilot free trade zone in late September, companies in the capital city have been studying the policies to seek new growth opportunities.

Zhang Qinghui, chairman of China Fashion Association, said he’s been busy lately organizing the ongoing China Fashion Week in Beijing. Zhang welcomed the establishment of the free trade zone as his organization is involved with service trade and international personnel exchanges.

“This policy is great news for the fashion industry. The fashion industry involves a lot of international trade in design and IP, and a lot of international education and training for designers. Hopefully the free trade policies will make all these exchanges easier,” said Zhang, who also chairs the China Fashion Week Organizing Committee.

According to the official announcement on September 24, the pilot free-trade zone will focus on supporting the construction of an innovation center with global influence. It will accelerate the construction of a leading area for the expansion of trade in services and a pilot area for the digital economy. So the services sector, instead of manufacturing, is the key area that will be boosted.

The Beijing municipal government has in recent years moved its entire manufacturing sector out of the city.

Over 80 percent of its GDP is generated from the service industry. Some districts, such as Chaoyang District, which houses the famous Central Business District area and 798 cultural area where Zhang’s organization is based, have over 90 percent of their GDP concentrated on services, such as finance, commerce, technology and culture.

Double Development Dynamic

Zhang says the new Double Development Dynamic concept introduced by China’s central government is also relevant to China’s fashion industry, as China is now both the world’s largest fashion producer and largest consumer.

“Double Development Dynamic is very relevant to our industry. China is the world’s top exporter of clothes and garments, as it’s very competitive with skilled workers, entire supply chain and cost control. At the same time, China’s domestic demand is also big enough to absorb a lot of supply. China in 2019 surpassed the U.S. to be the world’s largest fashion market. So both the domestic market and global market offer strong support to China’s fashion industry,” Zhang added.

China’s domestic fashion retail reversed pandemic-induced contraction since August with growth of 4.4 percent than a year ago, while fashion export also recovered in August with an annual growth of 3.2 percent.

This double development helped with the survival of the countries’ numerous companies.

Zhang also said he looks forward to detailed policies in Beijing’s free trade zone. Those include investment and trade policies so that foreign brands can enter China more easily, favorable visa policies to facilitate designer exchanges, as well as digital economy policies as China’s fashion industry has embraced technologies more than ever in both supply chain management and online sales channels.

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