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Stone Sector Evolving Into Pillar Industry

By Li Fusheng ( China Daily)

Updated: 2017-08-24

Officials say quality of output, design, increasingly attracting international interest and demand for products, seen going from strength to strength, Li Fusheng reports.

The already-heavyweight stone sector is rising fast as a pillar industry in Guizhou province, with its growth rate averaging 25 percent in recent years.

Officials said the rapid development is thanks to a combination of a variety of elements, including its rich resources, favorable policies, geographical position and the growing market demand.

Data from prospecting indicate that stone reserves in the southwestern province stand at about 10 billion cubic meters.

Of that, marble accounts for some 3.6 billion cu m, or around 20 percent of China's total stone resources.

"We not only have huge stone reserves, but they are widely distributed," said Wu Qiang, director of the province's Economic and Information Technology Commission.

"A total of 75 types of stone in six big categories - including marble, granite and basalt - are found in 80 percent of the counties under Guizhou's jurisdiction."

According to Guizhou Daily, the province's main newspaper, local stone dealers' exhibits at a stone expo held earlier this year in Xiamen, Fujian province, soon became the envy of other exhibitors from around the world.

The Guizhou authorities are also giving a boost to the sector with policy support.

In a June 2015 document, the provincial government made it a goal to build the stone sector into one of Guizhou's advantaged industries, to stimulate its development.

The government promulgated a series of favorable policies, aimed at accelerating an upgrade of the sector and improving its competitiveness.

Wu said the annual stone fair held at Anshun, Guizhou province, is one example of the government's measures to boost the sector.

Last year, more than 200,000 people visited the fair, which attracted over 300 exhibitors, with more than 20 of them coming from abroad.

In March, a business delegation led by Zhang Benqiang, vice-mayor of Anshun, made a trip to three European countries - Italy, the Czech Republic and Poland - to promote the fair.

Interested in the event and Guizhou's stone sector as a whole, an Italian stone association in Verona signed a memorandum with its Anshun counterpart to facilitate mutual investment.

Czech businessmen expressed their desire to visit Anshun to learn more about its stone business, and Poland's MMG said it would like to import stone products from the city and become a long-term partner of the fair.

Zeng Yongtao, Anshun's Party chief, has called for efforts to ensure that all work linked to the fair goes smoothly.

Anshun's stone output reached 8.25 million square meters in the first half of 2017, a year-on-year rise of 15 percent.

In the same period, the city's industrial output value of stone and related sectors amounted to 1.15 billion yuan ($172.54 million).

Guizhou's geological position and transport facilities are helping to promote its stone business as well.

It connects Southwest China with East China and South China. By the end of 2015, all counties in Guizhou had access to expressways, and nine cities had their own airports.

Four major railways run through the province and its river networks enable local ships to reach the Yangtze River and the Pearl River.

"In a word, we have built a comprehensive transport system composed of flights, railways, roads and rivers," said the provincial economic and information technology commission's Wu Qiang.

Wu expects the demand for stone products to grow steadily, driving the sector's development.

China is one of the world's biggest stone consumers, using about 1 billion sq m of stone products annually, and the urbanization drive in the country will generate further demand, especially in the western region, Wu added.

To seize the opportunity, Guizhou is also improving its local infrastructure. One example is the emerging China (Anshun) Stone City, a new 7 billion yuan project.

With a planned area of just over 363 hectares, it is the biggest stone trade and expo center in China. It will also feature stone processing, logistics, product development, and other relevant functions. Phase one of the project, covering 102 hectares, has been finished.

Contact the writer at lifusheng@chinadaily.com.cn

Stone Sector Evolving Into Pillar Industry

Stone Sector Evolving Into Pillar Industry

Stone Sector Evolving Into Pillar Industry

(China Daily 08/24/2017 page12)

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