While the abolition of tax exemptions for foreign investors' capital goods is almost certain to have slowed the inflow of foreign funds, the Tianjin Port Free Trade Zone has seen a surge in new projects. Feng Zhijiang , vice-president of the zone's administrative committee, said 12 new export processing projects worth US$70 million had been signed since April. He said they were approved after strict screening and included computer, packaging materials, high-tech building materials, petrochemical and electronic projects. The projects are processed in the zone and then exported overseas. 'Before then, we had only two or three export processing companies in the zone which was set up in 1991,' Mr Feng said. 'The new tax policy showed that the Free Trade Zone was a good place to invest in; no need to pay taxes.' Goods imported and exported from the zone are exempt from customs duties and value-added tax, and import and export licences are not required. Mr Feng said the area in the five-square-kilometre zone designated for export processing would be confined to two square kilometres because its main functions were to expand international trade and provide warehousing facilities. The abolition of capital import exemptions in April is intended by China to introduce a move towards a uniform investment regime for domestic and foreign firms to boost its chances of gaining admittance to the World Trade Organisation. This led to an increase in the cost of bringing in equipment for new foreign-funded projects by an average of 23 per cent, which would be partially offset by China's parallel slashing of tariffs on about 80 per cent of import items. Mr Feng said the zone's imports and exports were worth US$1.6 billion in the first eight months of the year and were expected to reach US$2 billion by December. In the first half of the year, container traffic was 38,411 teus.