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Hong Kong, Nansha at the heart of GBA's growth

Updated: Nov 4, 2022 By Oswald CHAN in Hong Kong HK EDITION Print
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Photo shows a view of Nansha Port in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong province. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

In June, the State Council rolled out the Nansha plan, aimed at turning Guangzhou's Nansha district — located at the southern tip of the Guangdong provincial capital — into a major strategic platform with global perspectives.

The plan is to make Nansha the heart of economic activity in the 11-city Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area in collaboration with the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions.

"By 2035, Nansha, together with Hong Kong and Macao, will play a pioneering role in the country's reform and opening-up," says Raymond Yip, chief liaison officer at Guangzhou Nansha Service Center in Hong Kong.

The fields for cooperation between Hong Kong and Nansha are extensive, covering the financial industry chain, technology transfer, high-end talent services, as well as scientific and technological innovation industry services and platform cooperation, he says.

"Hong Kong's international connections, free flow of capital, its intellectual property protection regime, legal-arbitration hub status, and boasting the second-largest private equity industry in Asia are conducive to fundraising for startups. All these can complement Nansha."

In addition, Hong Kong, as a global offshore renminbi business hub, a vital entrepot for the Chinese mainland, an important offshore fundraising center for mainland enterprises, and the largest source of overseas direct investment on the mainland, offers strong market vitality for Nansha, says Yip.

In return, the HKSAR can count on Nansha's edges in scientific and technological innovation, advanced manufacturing, and the shipping and logistics industries.

"Research and development take up 3.6 percent of Nansha's GDP, while Hong Kong's ratio in this respect is less than 1 percent," Yip says. Nansha is also gearing up in artificial intelligence and life and health sciences, along with emerging industries like marine science and technology as well as aerospace.

In advanced manufacturing, Nansha has cultivated a comprehensive business value chain. Last year, Nansha's output in automobile manufacturing exceeded 154 billion yuan ($21.1 billion). The output of industrial enterprises above designated size reached more than 340 billion yuan in 2021 — up 11.2 percent from the previous year. Investments in fixed assets surpassed 100 billion yuan — an increase of 22.3 percent from 2020.

In the logistics business, Nansha, as a container hub in South China and with a deep-water port, currently handles certain imported goods destined for Hong Kong. The goods are shipped to Nansha's container terminal for warehousing before being transported to the SAR.

In terms of shipping-hub infrastructure, Nansha has the largest cluster of terminals for containers, automobiles and general cargo in South China. The district's total import and export volume in foreign trade currently is worth more than 260 billion yuan, growing at an annual rate of 14.7 percent.

With an area of about 803 square kilometers, Nansha is at the center of the Greater Bay Area, linking the major cities on both sides of the Pearl River and Hong Kong and Macao. It is the only State-level New Area in Guangdong, the largest area of the China (Guangdong) Pilot Free Trade Zone, which consists of three areas, and is the nation's first International Special Zone for Talents.

Nansha's GDP exceeded 200 billion yuan in 2021. Nansha has attracted a total of 223 projects invested in by Fortune Global 500 companies, whereas 26 projects were newly introduced to Nansha in 2021. The district also has 11 listed companies.

Although Hong Kong and Nansha have strong collaboration potential because of their complementary strengths in various industries, the two places still do not understand each other fully, Yip says.

"Hong Kong-based companies should realize the attractiveness of investing in Nansha, while Nansha needs to know more about Hong Kong. This way, they will have more room for business growth and potential."

One of the key policy changes has been that Hong Kong and Macao residents working in Nansha will be exempted from paying the portion of personal income tax that exceeds the tax rate in the two SARs.

Yip points to Nansha's central geographical position in the Greater Bay Area and its efficient transportation network that facilitates Hong Kong enterprises in marketing and promotions.

"Entrepreneurs in Nansha can use Nansha's efficient transportation system as a base to promote their products by radiating to other markets in the Greater Bay Area and even to other consumer markets across the country," he says.

According to official data, so far around 3,000 Hong Kong and Macao companies have set up operations in Nansha. There is also plenty of space for collaboration in tourism and cultural exchanges, Yip says.

The Nansha service center, which was established in July, will probably have two officials from Nansha working in Hong Kong this year. They will handle queries from Hong Kong entrepreneurs and provide consultation services, and work with overseas agencies to promote Nansha.

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