The 10-square-kilometer Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone, set up in June 1990, was the first free trade zone in China approved by the State Council. After more than 20 years of development, it has attracted tens of thousands of companies, making it the biggest special-administered area under Customs in terms of economic output and range of services. In September 2011, the zone was designated by the Ministry of Commerce as China's first National Model Area for the Promotion of Imports and Innovation. It has become an important trade center in Shanghai, dedicated to building professional trade platforms in 10 categories: liquor, watches, automobiles, engineering machinery, machine tools, medical devices, biomedicine, healthcare products, cosmetics and cultural products. The latter category was accredited by the Ministry of Culture as China's first National Center for Trade in Cultural Products, with trade volume of the products continuing to rise. In 2012, the zone accounted for 43 percent of the watches imported into China, 37 percent of liquor imports and 29 percent of cosmetics. Imports of pharmaceuticals jumped 40 percent to account for 24 percent of the national total, and imports of medical devices rose 29 percent, comprising 21 percent of the national total.
The 1.03-square-kilometer Waigaoqiao Free Trade Logistics Park, set up in December 2003, was the first of its kind approved by the State Council. It was also the first place in the country to run a pilot project of “interactive development,” which allows companies to benefit from the policies and resources of both the free trade zone and the Port of Shanghai. Based those policies and tax rebates, the logistics park and the Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone create a major center where multinational companies can export and source products in northeastern Asia, and can import non-ferrous metals and information technology components.
The 14.16-square-kilometer Yangshan Free Trade Port, set up in June 2005, was the first free trade port approved by China's State Council. It comprises Little Yangshan Port and the Donghai Bridge connecting the island port to the mainland. The free trade port is a key cornerstone of Shanghai's goal to become a Comprehensive Experimental Zone for International Shipping. The port has attracted companies in industries such as information technology, electronics, automobiles and auto parts, food processing and name-brand clothing. The companies have sited distribution depots in the port and established links with major shipping companies. The port currently is the fastest growing and most profitable of China's 15 free trade ports.
The 3.59-square-kilometer Pudong Airport Free Trade Zone, set up in July 2009, is designed to take advantage of its status as an Asian-Pacific and function as an “experimental area for innovative air services.”
Multinational companies in electronics, medical devices and high-end consumer goods have established distribution centers in the zone and become involved in related financial leasing projects. UPS, DHL and FedEx, the world’s top three express companies, have set up branches in the zone and helped it developed a strong business chain of air freight distribution, financial leasing, express transit and exhibitions of Asia-Pacific trade.