BEIJING (AP) — Operations have formally kicked off at a new free trade zone in Shanghai that China's government has billed as a major step for financial reforms and economic experimentation. But significant changes look to be years away.

State media reported Sunday that a first batch of 25 Chinese and foreign companies were granted licenses to register in the zone.

The China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone is a nearly 29-square-kilometer (11-square-mile) district that covers four existing special trade zones in Pudong district.

China's State Council formally announced rules for the new free trade zone on Friday. They include measures to cut red tape and restrictions for foreign investment in the country's tightly controlled service industry.

There are also plans to experiment with convertibility of China's tightly controlled currency, the yuan.