FTZ aims for 'strong regional economy'
Updated: 2015-04-24 07:19
By Zhou Mo in Zhuhai, Guangdong(HK Edition)
Zhuhai, Macao pledge to strengthen finance, trade ties as Hengqin takes off
Zhuhai's leaders have vowed to work closely with Macao for lasting economic benefits as the southern mainland city's Hengqin Island formally established itself on Thursday as part of the new China (Guangdong) Pilot Free Trade Zone (FTZ).
Hengqin will build a strong trading platform for commodities from Portuguese-speaking countries and regions by taking advantage of Macao's international links, and will simplify procedures to facilitate the export and import of Macao's goods.
The move will make it easier for international and Macao enterprises to explore the mainland market, with innovation likely to lure more Macao companies to invest in the Hengqin New Area.
"We hope to set up free trade channels with Brazil, Angola and Portugal through Macao's platform," Niu Jing, director of the Administrative Committee of the Hengqin New Area, said at the unveiling ceremony on Thursday.
Personnel exchanges between Zhuhai and Macao are also expected to increase as an entrepreneurship base will be built in the area to encourage youths from Macao to start businesses there. The base, which is due to come into operation in June this year, will provide one-stop services for young Macao entrepreneurs, including company registration, the opening of bank accounts and staff recruitment. They will be allowed to work at the base rent-free for at least a year.
Zhuhai Mayor Jiang Ling said deepening cooperation with Macao and achieving integrative development of the two sides are important tasks for the Hengqin New Area. "We hope to create an internationally competitive regional economy by strengthening collaboration with Macao," he said.
To achieve these goals, he said more high-end resources have to be introduced. "Both sides should work together to absorb internationally high-end resources and integrate them into the free trade area," he stressed.
Macao's Secretary for Economy and Finance Lionel Leong Vai-tac said the Macao Special Administrative Region will actively support and participate in the construction of the Hengqin New Area to give the new FTZ a boost.
"Macao can give play to its unique advantages and work with Hengqin to create a good business environment for the FTZ while, at the same time, enhancing its own competitiveness," he said.
The Hengqin area, which is adjacent to Macao and covers 28 square kilometers, is one of the three districts covered in the provincial FTZ launched on Tuesday. The others are Shenzhen's Qianhai and Shekou areas, and Guangzhou's Nansha area.
Cooperation with Macao is one of Hengqin's characteristics and highlights as it aims to diversify and promote Macao's economy by building a world-class travel and recreation center and a services platform for Portuguese-speaking countries.
A number of enterprises have already established themselves in the area. So far, 8,477 firms have registered in Hengqin, including 407 from Hong Kong and Macao. The area has also attracted 866 financial companies with total registered capital reaching 137 billion yuan ($22.1 billion).
To ensure the smooth operation of companies there, an intellectual property court will be built to provide protection for their research and development achievements.
The area is working on a policy to allow vehicles from Macao to enter and exit Hengqin freely although no exact date has been set for the policy to be implemented.
Hu Chunhua (fourth from right), secretary of the Communist Party of China Guangdong Provincial Committee, is flanked by Zhu Xiaodan (fifth from right), governor of Guangdong province, and Leung Chun-ying (third from right), Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, during a presentation of the new free trade zone blueprint at the unveiling ceremony of the China (Guangdong) Pilot Free Trade Zone in Guangzhou on Tuesday. Photo Provided to China Daily
(HK Edition 04/24/2015 page8)