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Impressive growth for new area, officials say

By Tian Xuefei and Zhou Huiying in Harbin | China Daily | Updated: 2019-08-23 10:02
An aerial view of the Harbin New Area in Harbin, Heilongjiang. Provided to CHINA DAILY

The Harbin New Area has made impressive progress in the first half of this year, with GDP growing 10.3 percent, compared with the same period last year, local officials said.

Approved by the State Council in 2015, it covers parts of Songbei, Hulan and Pingfang districts in Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang province, and stretches 493 square kilometers.

The new area caters for high-end services and industries such as science and technology, information services, finance, international trade and cultural tourism.

As the 16th national new area in China, it is the country's first and only zone focusing on China-Russian cooperation, as Heilongjiang shares a 2,981-kilometer border with Russia. "The development of the new area centering on cooperation with Russia is in line with the central government's efforts to strengthen business ties between the two countries," said Wang Wentao, governor of the province.

Since opening in early 2016, the Sino-Russian Financial Alliance, which is headquartered in Harbin New Area and has 33 members from China and 37 from Russia, has played an important role in implementing projects involving financial cooperation.

"The new area views the Sino-Russian financial cooperation as an opportunity and strives for more achievements in promoting the internationalization of the renminbi in Russian markets," said Wang Tieli, director of Harbin's Songbei district, a major part of the new area. "We will also expand the services of local currency settlement, foreign exchange transactions, electronic banking and mutual communication."

To support local development and better integrate the area's resources, the provincial and city administrations have given more autonomy to the new area's administration. Harbin New Area has promoted a "construction upon licensing" model for entrepreneurs who apply to the government for business registration.

According to the administrative committee, this allows investment projects to start building several days after filing applications and the opportunity to quickly start operations.

Previously, entrepreneurs were required to take more than 100 days to go through complicated procedures, including requiring them to obtain a license and several certificates, before they started construction.

"To become a driving engine of the province and the city, the new area should extend its industrial chains by building complementary industrial clusters," Governor Wang Wentao said.

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