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Zhuhai mayor stresses Guangdong-Macao cooperation

2015-03-10 14:57 China.org.cn Web Editor: Wang Fan
Jiang Ling, mayor of Zhuhai. (Photo: China.org.cn/He Shan)

Jiang Ling, mayor of Zhuhai. (Photo: China.org.cn/He Shan)

As the smallest of the three Guangdong pilot free trade zones, Hengqin covers an area of only 28 square kilometers. However, being adjacent to Macao and Hong Kong is its unique advantage and this has made Hengqin a special area for the two special administrative regions. In the years to come, Hengqin will continue to explore institutional innovation. [Special coverage]

"Guangdong-Macao cooperation and institutional innovation are the two backbones for the development of the Hengqin Free Trade Area (FTA)," noted Jiang Ling, who became mayor of Zhuhai this year.

For one thing, deepening the cooperation is the core for the Hengqin FTA and Macao's long-term stable diversified economic development. Compared with Hong Kong, Macao is not very competitive in industrial diversification, overall economic strength, and particularly high-end services. However, Macao has its own advantages and characteristics. One of them is Macao's cooperation with Portuguese-speaking countries. With a reserve of many Portuguese-speaking people, Macao can help Hengqin cooperate with Portuguese-speaking countries.

"In order to build up a trade and economic cooperation platform with Portuguese-speaking countries, Hengqin is now seeking cross-border electronic commerce cooperation with South American countries. Meanwhile, Hengqin is to speed up its development of tourism and leisure industry relying on the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom. This also strengthens Macao's position as an international tourism and leisure center. In terms of research and development in the pharmaceutical industry, Hengqin and Macao also have made many achievements. With the help of the Hengqin FTA, Zhuhai is to go global in collaboration with Macao, connecting to the 21st century Maritime Silk Road," stated Jiang.

"And with the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, the three areas will make up an international metropolitan region. It also means Zhuhai is the only city directly linked to Hong Kong and Macao by land. In this international metropolitan region, Hengqin's comprehensive advantages will come into full play."

For another thing, institutional innovation is urgent and 'is the vitality of the area. "A free trade area isn't a park where people only enjoy preferential policies and introduce foreign investment. An international, market-oriented and legal business environment should be realized and institutional innovation be carried out."

"A successful FTA shouldn't depend on all kinds of preferential policies. In fact, some preferential policies are just transitional. What makes enterprises stay is the good institutional environment in the FTA," said Jiang.

"On the one hand, after enterprises enter the FTA, investment and trade will go more smoothly. They don't have to go through tedious examinations and approval formalities. They only need to be put on file. On the other hand, the intellectual property rights, investment and trade of the enterprises will be protected. This makes international trade and investment cooperation much easier."

Also, the superimposed effect of three preferential policies, including the FTA policy, Hengqin New Area policy and the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA ) together with 11 supplementary protocols, make Hengqin different from the other two free trade areas in Guangdong.

Institutional innovation in the free trade area requires wisdom and hard work. "We now need to carry out further institutional innovation in accordance with the law. It won't be easy in the future. Therefore, institutional innovation will be a key step for Hengqin." said Jiang.

Talking about the development of the west bank of the Pearl River estuary, Jiang said: "Due to transportation and other objective reasons, the west bank hasn't been fully developed. However, it boasts sufficient development space," Jiang added.

"Firstly, there's a lot of concentrated land there. Secondly, the west bank has a good ecological environment. Lastly, the transport conditions have been greatly improved in the last few years, making the area more attractive for high-end manufacturing enterprises. The west bank is bound to develop quickly with the help of the Hengqin FTA and Zhuhai."

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