A closed ATM machine is seen at the Shanghai Free Trade Zone in Pudong district, in Shanghai, China August 22, 2019.REUTERS/Aly Song
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When China launched the expansion of the Shanghai free trade zone recently and announced six new zones in July, officials touted the efforts to attract foreign investment and deepen trade ties with neighboring countries.China Merchants Bank, now the country's fifth largest by assets and profits, disbanded a 10-strong FTZ corporate business team at the end of last year, said two people with knowledge of the situation, spreading the staff among other branches after the lender found that the FTZ's promised benefits were rendered useless as capital controls tightened.CMB said the bank has restructured its team in Shanghai because it attaches great importance to FTZ business, adding that assets in free trade accounts have increased by 67 percent at the end of August from the start of this year.The Bank of Ningbo currently has four branches in the FTZ, but while they're still expanding, most of the work done is normal banking business.Over at the Bank of Nanjing, management is not keen on expanding the FTZ business, said a person who works in the zone branch.
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