Business / Industries

Yunfu chisels new shape for stone industry

By QIU QUANLIN (China Daily) Updated: 2014-12-25 09:13

China Daily is releasing a series of reports focusing on those who are devoted to development at the grassroots level.

Yunfu, situated between the Pearl River Delta and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region and one of the largest manufacturing bases for stone materials in China, has outlined an industrial upgrade plan that incorporates several cultural elements.

Pang Guomei, Party chief of Yunfu, said on Wednesday that the stone material industry will not simply focus on developing products for engineering and building projects, but also for home decoration by attaching importance to design and cultural innovation.

"The stone industry for engineering and building projects was affected by the relatively slow development of the property market this year," said Pang.

However, there is a growing demand for artistically designed stone products in the home decoration market, according to Pang.

The city has more than 5,000 stone material makers, of which most are engaged in producing stones for engineering and building projects.

"Local manufacturers are encouraged to add more cultural elements to the traditional product to meet the growing demand for home decoration," Pang said.

The city's output of stone materials is expected to reach 20 billion yuan ($3.2 billion) this year, according to the local government.

"We are developing the stone materials into an art and culture industry, which is of great importance to upgrading the traditional manufacturing business," Pang said.

Lin Jiang, head of the public finance and taxation department of the Lingnan College at Sun Yat-sen University, said Yunfu should attach more importance to development of the modern service industry to support sustainable growth of the stone material trade.

"The stone industry should be supported by a well-developed service industry including finance, culture and innovation," said Lin.

For example, better financing options will help provide funds to stone producers, while the addition of innovation and technology will help introduce more talent in the stone industry, Lin said.

Lin, along with several domestic and overseas economists, are on a two-day trip to Yunfu, to discuss strategies on how the local economy would develop after the high-speed railway connecting the city with Guangzhou, Guangdong's capital and Nanning, the capital of Guangxi, started operations on Friday.

He Kunxiang, deputy general manager of Yunfu Henglong Investment Co, said the company's artistic stone products have been popular both in the domestic and overseas markets.

"We started making artistic stone materials a few years ago, when the demand for such products was relatively low. But now they are becoming popular," said He.

Thomas Chan, head of the China Business Center at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said local stone material manufacturers should expand exports to Southeast Asia.

"There is a growing demand for stone materials, especially those for buildings, in the Southeast Asian countries, where the property industry is booming," Chan said.

Yunfu's stone materials are mainly shipped to Europe and the United States, according to the local government.

China's stone exports increased by 15 percent year-on-year in the first three quarters of the year, with an increased volume being shipped to emerging markets, according to the China Stone Material Association.

"Local stone producers should not only keep an eye on the domestic market, but attach importance to boosting their presence on the emerging international market," Chan said.

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