Guangdong, one of China’s economic powerhouses, is conducting a feasibility study of a free trade zone (FTZ) in cooperation with the neighboring Hong Kong and Macau special administrative regions, according to the newspaper China Daily.
The paper said that officials in the southern province have been urged to apply “immediately” for central government approval to begin construction of the FTZ.
The zone would encompass the Nansha district in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong, as well as Hengqin island in the Zhuhai special economic zone, the Qianhai area in the Shenzhen SEZ and Guangzhou airport’s comprehensive development zone, they added.
Guangdong media reports said the central government may approve the FTZ in early 2014.
In 2010, the State Council designated the Nansha district, Hengqin island and the Qianhai area as three pilot sites for policies to boost regional economic integration in Guangdong.
Located at the mouth of the Pearl River, Nansha district covers more than 803 sq km. The Guangzhou government aims to develop the district, a State-level pilot development zone, into a new engine for the city’s economic growth.
Nansha could become a crossroads where Hong Kong’s financial and technological strengths are used to develop innovative industries, according to Guangzhou Mayor Chen Jianhua.
Qianhai, which covers only 15 sq km, borders Hong Kong. The Shenzhen city government aims to give top priority to Qianhai in the development of service industries, which give Hong Kong its advantages.
Hengqin, which borders Macau, covers 106.4 sq km. It will be well-placed to help Guangdong deepen economic cooperation with Macau and Hong Kong, according to Niu Jing, director of the administrative committee of the Hengqin new area.
Hengqin is also expected to be built into an “open” island closely connected to Hong Kong and Macau.
Niu said that Hengqin island, which is three times the size of Macau, will give priority to investment from Hong Kong and Macau while also seeking global investment.
An FTZ is a place where goods can be imported, manufactured and exported without the intervention of customs authorities. (macaunews)