Framework deal instituted for business cooperation across borders
NANNING: South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region and Vietnam have approved a framework agreement to establish a new cross-border economic zone in the latest effort to further boost economic and trade cooperation between China and its Southeast Asian neighbor.
It is part of broad efforts to further enhance bilateral economic ties between China, the world's third-largest economy - one of the fastest-growing economies in the world - and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) following the establishment of the China-ASEAN free trade area (FTA) earlier this year.
The framework plan for the new cross-border economic zone between Dongxing, a city administered by Fangchenggang, a port city in Guangxi, and Mong Cai city, the largest border trade zone in northern Vietnam, was approved by the Guangxi regional government. Administrators are now applying for approval from the central government, Mo Gongming, mayor of Fangchenggang, told China Daily on the sidelines of a local legislative session last month.
Mo added that the plan was approved by the Vietnamese government in 2009. Nguyen Anh Dzung, consul general of the Consulate General of Vietnam in Nanning, confirmed the approval of the plan by Vietnam at a reception marking the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic ties between Vietnam and China in Nanning on Jan 30.
According to the initial plan, the new cross-border zone will cover about 4 square kilometers in Mong Cai city and about 5.8 square kilometers in Dongxing city in the first phase. Dongxing hopes to expand the size of the Dongxing section of the zone to around 13 square kilometers in the future, said Liu Quanyue, mayor of Dongxing.
Dongxing port is one of the country's main trading hubs with Vietnam. [China Daily]
Dongxing, the only Chinese city with both land and sea borders with ASEAN, has a total area of 540.7 square kilometers and a population of 110,000. Mong Cai, a key Vietnamese city open to the outside world with preferential government policies, has a total area of about 520 square kilometers and a population of about 100,000.
According to the plan, the new economic zone is designed to replace the current 4-square-kilometer cross-border economic zone in Dongxing approved by China's cabinet, the State Council, in 1992, said Mo.
The mayor of Fangchenggang added the new zone would be isolated from residential areas, unlike the existing one.
"We are positive about the new cross-border economic zone," Nguyen said. "It's a new concept and a new pattern of cooperation for both sides. The two sides need to have more discussions on specific policies as well as the content and scope of the cooperation."
"A joint team has been established to push for specific cooperation between Dongxing and Mong Cai and China should speed up the process of cooperation," said Liu.
A second bridge will be built on Beilun River on the border between China and Vietnam as part of the new infrastructure to further boost border trade in the future Dongxing-Mong Cai economic zone, Mo said.
The current bridge, erected in 1958, now can hardly meet the needs of significantly increased passenger and cargo transportation with the establishment of the China-ASEAN FTA and rapid development of the Guangxi Beibu Bay economic zone.
In 2009, nearly 4.9 million people crossed the Dongxing border, rising from about 4.6 million in 2008, according to the mayor of Dongxing.
The volume of trade between China and Vietnam through the Dongxing-Mong Cai border reached $2.4 billion and $4.1 billion in 2007 and 2008 respectively, the highest among the China-Vietnam border gates.
"We hope the planned Dongxing-Mong Cai economic zone allowing more free movement of capital, people and cargo, can play an important role in facilitating trade between the two cities, boosting China-Vietnam economic ties and enhancing China-ASEAN cooperation," Liu said.