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Southwest China's Guizhou province, which is relatively economically undeveloped, will step up its efforts to open up to the outside world, said a senior local official on Monday.
According to Guizhou customs' statistics, the province's total imports and exports jumped to a record high of $4.9 billion in 2011, a year-on-year increase of 55 percent, which was a clear sign that "Guizhou is opening up even faster."
Guizhou, whose development had been restricted by its geographical location and mountainous landscape, sees great chances to attract more investment due to improvements in the province's transport infrastructure, said Zhao Kezhi, governor of the province.
"After the first decade of the western development strategy, traffic in our province has improved significantly," Zhao said. "The enhanced traffic conditions have made it possible for Guizhou to open up wider."
The total length of railway lines in the province reached 2,068 km by the end of last year, with another 980 km under construction, according to Zhao.
Meanwhile, 2,648 km of expressways are under construction in Guizhou, and "will reach every county within this year", he said.
By the end of 2015, the province is expected to have 4,500 km of expressway.
Zhao added that Guizhou would also see a major upgrading of its air transport sector, with a series of deals already done or due to be reached soon.
"A major task for us this year is to further lower logistics costs," he said.
The province is going to invite experts to work out a modern logistics development plan for the province, Zhao added.
"The goal of the plan is to lower logistics costs to attract more investment," he explained. The plan aims to set up an integrated transport system of railways, expressways, aviation and water.
Zhao said the local government will participate in a series of business events in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, and will promote its favorable investment environment during the second international liquor exposition to be held in September in Guiyang, the provincial capital.
Meanwhile, Zhao emphasized that the provincial government will improve the market conditions in Guizhou through further reforms, and create a business environment of fair competition by increasing the openness and transparency of markets and related projects.
"Most importantly, we're going to further improve and optimize government services, and create a business-friendly environment," Zhao added.
"The benefit of opening-up is already obvious," Zhao said, adding that investment from abroad and other parts of China has greatly boosted the local economy and employment.
Besides its well-known ethnic culture and tourist resources, Guizhou boasts extremely rich mineral resources. Its aluminum, phosphorus and coal resources rank among the top five in China.
There is huge potential for the development of the province's shale gas sector, Zhao added.
The province reached an initial stage agreement with US-based Air Products & Chemicals Inc, a Fortune 500 company, to invest in and explore its shale gas, when Zhao visited the United States with Vice-President Xi Jinping in February.
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