Western region's economy growing faster

By Li Jiabao and Huang Zhiling in Chengdu ( China Daily )

Updated: 2012-09-27

The western region of China is becoming the country's "new powerhouse" for economic growth, and will be given the resources it needs to continue developing its real economy, particularly its infrastructure, top governmental officials said on Wednesday.

During a keynote speech at the 5th Western China International Cooperation Forum in Chengdu, Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, said the key region "not only broadens China's development, but also provides opportunities in trade and investment cooperation with Asian countries".

He added: "Transnational groups, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises, can all find promising projects in the region.

"More effective measures will be introduced to deepen the development of the western region and open it up to both internal and external investment."

The government first prioritized the development of the western region - some 12 provinces or autonomous regions, with more than 86 percent of the country's hydro-energy, and 60 percent of its gas and coal resources - in March 2001.

Du Ying, vice-minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's economic planning agency, told forum delegates that steady economic growth of the region has not only helped narrow regional development disparity, "but also boosted the country's economy amid the world economic slowdown".

Du said the country offers the most potential in boosting domestic demand, while blaming the underpowered real economic growth for slowing economic recovery worldwide.

After the global financial crisis, both developed and developing countries realized the importance of developing their real economies, which are related to goods and services.

"A new wave of western investment is expected to target the region's rich resources of land and people, which will help further develop its key industries such as agriculture and manufacturing, and its infrastructure, including its energy and transportation networks," Wu said.

Du urged local governments to put more resources into developing the real economy, as more industries move to the region from coastal areas and overseas, driven by rising costs.

Liu Qibao, director of the 13th Western China International Fair, and also Party chief of Sichuan province, said boosting the development of the real economy will be the province's key priority.

"More resources, especially capital and talent, will flow into sectors of the real economy, both with government help and driven by natural market forces.

"The local government will lower taxes and other corporate costs, while continuing to open up the market to investment," Liu said.

A total of 400 project deals worth nearly 506.8 billion yuan ($80 billion) were signed on Wednesday during the forum in Chengdu, a 28.4 percent increase over last year's event, said Han Tingting, an official with the Sichuan provincial investment promotion bureau.

The projects cover electronic information, auto and equipment manufacturing, energy conservation, environmental protection, new energy and materials, modern agriculture, the service sector and biology.

Beijing Energy Investment Holdings Co Ltd will invest 40 billion yuan to produce 4 billion cubic meters of coal-derived natural gas a year and launch thermal, wind and photovoltaic power projects for the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

China Electronics Corp, meanwhile, will invest 1.5 billion yuan in Chengdu to build the weather radar and antenna producing bases and Southwest China's largest bases of electromagnetic devices.

Contact the writers at lijiabao@chinadaily.com.cn and huangzhiling@chinadaily.com.cn