China outlines policy for new storage bases for energy, agri imports

FILE PHOTO: A Chinese national flag flutters near the building of China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) at the Financial Street area in Beijing, China July 16, 2020. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - China is directing authorities in East China’s Zhejiang province to start planning to build stockpiling bases for energy and agricultural products, part of a push to develop regional free-trade zones (FTZs), a government document said on Monday.

The directives call for looking at building above-ground and underground facilities to stockpile oil, gas and chemicals in FTZs that encompass 120 square km (46 square miles), including in parts of provincial cities Ningbo, Hangzhou and Jinyi.

“(The government will) support experiments to build oil and gas reserves, to undertake greater tasks of government stockpiling and also boost corporate stockpiling,” China’s State Council, the country’s Cabinet, said in the policy document.

This would expand a plan to build Zhejiang’s Zhoushan port, made up of many islands, into a marine fuel hub to challenge Singapore, the world’s largest supplier of ship bunkers.

The oil storage facilities, once built, would have the potential to become part of China’s national reserves, it said.

Zhejiang FTZ should also plan to build bonded storage and transfer centres for imported grains that can provide special quarantine approval and customs clearance on shipments, starting with soybean imports, the document said.

Facilities for the processing of high protein food such as imported beef will also need to be expanded, it said.

In the same policy release, the Cabinet calls for increasing agricultural trade with African exporters in the free-trade zones of central Hunan province that handle air cargo imports of products like coffee and cotton.

Nonferrous metals processing should also be expanded in the Chenzhou area of southern Hunan, the document said.

Reporting by Chen Aizhu; Editing by Tom Hogue