A Comparison of Hainan with the Other Special Economic Zones

by Charles Robert Roll, Jr.

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This Note discusses Hainan province and her sister special economic zones (SEZs) — Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Shantou, and Xiamen — from the point of view of strategic development planning. The author examines some of the differences among the SEZs, including levels of economic development, comparative advantages, and the regulatory environments the central government has provided for the SEZs. The comparison reveals that Hainan is at a less mature stage of development than are the other SEZs. The author also considers whether there are sound arguments for maintaining different regulatory policies or systems in the different SEZs. He concludes that there do not appear to be strong analytic reasons to have different policies in different SEZs. Moreover, having a single set of policies and rules makes it less likely that unproductive flows of capital or labor will take advantage of different rules in different places over time. It is more efficient to present one set of rules to the international community. Each SEZ should operate within the same policy guidelines, but should be free to exploit its comparative advantages.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

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