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China Daily Website

Ningxia blazing a trail in opening of inland regions

Updated: 2012-12-08 11:07
By Li Jiabao ( China Daily)

Measures and policies are being drawn up in China's first pilot inland opening-up economic zone in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, a move to open landlocked areas in northwestern China, officials said on Friday.

Ningxia blazing a trail in opening of inland regions

Ningxia blazing a trail in opening of inland regions

"We aim to build the region into a frontier in China's 'opening-up to the west' strategy ... more opportunities will be created for domestic and foreign investors during the building of key projects in infrastructure, especially in irrigation and water conservancy, information, transportation and logistics," Wang Zhengwei, chairman of the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, told a news conference.

The region was approved as an inland opening-up pilot economic zone in September, and is the first one among provincial-level regions. Meanwhile, a comprehensive tax-free zone was set up in Yinchuan, capital of the region.

With rich coal reserves and abundant mineral resources, the regional government plans to build Ningxia into a national energy and chemical base, a specialized agricultural production and processing base and a Eurasian logistics transit base.

Halal food and Muslim commodities will also be promoted as the region accounts for one-fifth of the Hui ethnic group in the country, said Wang.

"We are looking for professionals specializing in international practices, especially those familiar with the Middle East and Central Asia, to draft the guidelines to develop the pilot economic zone," Wang said.

He added that details will soon be released on a group of major projects related to the long-term development of the pilot zone.

Ningxia was encouraged to apply policies introduced in the opening-up of coastal cities as well as to try policies that were not used previously in order to gain experience for the further opening up of inland regions, said Qin Yucai, director of the Western Development Department of the National Development and Reform Commission.

"In the next step, we will soon set up a coordination mechanism bridging State Council departments, including the NDRC, and the autonomous region. The mechanism will address important problems in the building of the pilot economic zone," Qin said.

He added the zone intends to explore opportunities in opening underdeveloped inland areas and create more room for economic growth after the success in opening up coastal cities and boosting trade in border areas in the past decades.

Assistant Minister of Commerce Yu Jianhua said that Ningxia is fitting into global industrial chains with rapid export growth in recent years and has become an important player in fine chemicals, processing of rare metals and biomedicine.

The annual China-Arab States Economic and Trade Forum was transformed into an exposition earlier this year and will boost trade and investment with the Gulf Cooperation Council, Arab states and Muslim countries, Wang said.

The western region has become a highlight amid the country's slowing export growth and foreign direct investment inflow. The first 10 months of 2012 saw exports from the western region surge 43.6 percent year-on-year, compared with 4.8 percent growth in the eastern region, and the nation's 7.8 percent export growth in the same period. FDI flowing into western region increased by 6.8 percent year-on-year from January to October while China's FDI in the same period dropped 3.45 percent year-on-year, according to the ministry.