Guangdong to surpass Taiwan in GDP terms

By Zhan Lisheng (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-12-11 07:01

GUANGZHOU: The gross domestic prodcut of South China's Guangdong Province is likely to surpass that of Taiwan in a couple of years, experts estimate.

"It will not take very long for Guangdong to catch up with Taiwan," said Li Huiwu, deputy director of the provincial government's development research centre.

"Guangdong's gross domestic product grows by more than US$30 billion a year, while Taiwan's grows by about US$10 billion. It is very likely that Guangdong will outpace Taiwan in 2008."

This year Guangdong's GDP growth rate is estimated at 14 per cent and its GDP is expected to top 2.5 trillion yuan (US$308.26 billion), Li said.

Taiwan's GDP reached US$323.4 billion last year.

"As a matter of fact, the provincial authorities attach greater importance to the sustainability of economic development rather than the speed of GDP growth," Li said.

"That is why the province has adjusted its annual GDP growth rate to 9 per cent in the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10)."

The yearly GDP growth rate was 13 per cent from 2001 to last year.

Energy, environment concerns

"Whether the province can lower energy consumption and improve the environment as expected, depends crucially on the sustainability of Guangdong's economic development,

"Though it is among the regions that have the lowest energy consumption per 10,000 yuan (US$1,233) GDP in China, Guangdong, the economic powerhouse of China, still have to figure out effective ways to lower the energy consumption rate," Li said.

The province lacks its own energy resources. It is dependent on other regions of the country and imports for more than 90 per cent of its energy.

The shortage of power, petrol and gas from time to time in the past few years has caused concern for the province, Li said.

Guangdong has been highlighting high-tech industries, encouraging independent innovation and generally speeding up the development of industry, he said.

The province has placed controls on heavy energy-consuming industries and encouraged existing enterprises to revamp equipment with energy-saving devices.

Guangdong aims to lower energy consumption per 10,000 yuan (US$1,233) GDP by 16 per cent by the year 2010 and the output of its industry is expected to constitute 45 per cent of its GDP by that date.

The deputy director said Guangdong has been putting much effort into improving its environment, which is equally important for sustainable development.

According to sources, 70 per cent of the rain in the booming Pearl River Delta is acid rain, as compared to 40 per cent for the whole country, and water in the province's many rivers is not up to standard.

Li said Guangdong is accelerating the use of clean energy by power plants.

The province also plans to lower the emission of key pollutants sulphur dioxide and chemical oxygen demand (COD) by 15 per cent by 2010.

All small thermal power plants will be closed down by next year, and the bigger ones will be installed with desulphuration equipment by 2008.

The province will also increase the daily capacity of sewage disposal by 2010.

Li said the province's investment in environment protection will account for at least 3 per cent of its annual GDP from 2006-10 to generate a satisfactory green GDP.

Officials at different levels in the province's 21 cities have been given energy-saving targets and performance measures in environmental protection. These two factors will be taken into account when evaluating their administrative performance.

Xu Junbin, an assistant professor with South China Normal University's economics department, said Guangdong faces a tough task to maintain a stable economic growth of 9 per cent while reducing energy consumption by 16 per cent and improving the environment.

(China Daily 12/11/2006 page3)

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