The Macau government Wednesday signed a framework agreement with Zhongshan city to establish the “Guangdong-Macau Co-operation Pilot Zone” in Cuiheng district, Guangdong province.
The signing ceremony took place after the annual joint meeting of co-operation between Guangdong and Macau, which was held in the Four Seasons Hotel Macau in Cotai.
The agreement was signed by Secretary for Economy and Finance Francis Tam Pak Yuen and Zhongshan Mayor Chen Liangxian.
The annual joint meeting was first held in 2003 for top officials from either side to discuss co-operation projects. Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On and Guangdong Governor Zhu Xiaodan co-chaired the meeting.
In addition to the establishment of the co-operation pilot zone, the two governments also signed another five agreements on enhancing collaboration in other fields.
According to a statement about the joint meeting, a five square-kilometre area will be set up in the “first phase” of the project. The two parties will also establish a joint venture investment company to launch the development and construction of the pilot zone, the statement said.
The statement also said that the operation of the zone in Cuiheng will be different from that of an industrial park. “The co-operation will break the limitations of the ‘industrial park’ co-operation model; work with small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to transform their operations and alleviate the domestic demand for medical and healthcare, leisure and housing in Macau; extend reciprocation in education, tourism and cultural exchanges as well as trading services”, the statement said.
According to the statement, the zone is to be divided into five functional sub-zones, namely Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Co-operation Industrial Park, International Trade Services Platform, Guangdong-Macau Education and Training Park, International Cultural Exchange Zone, Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Tourism Co-operation Zone.
Chiu and Zhu co-hosted a press conference after the joint-meeting and the signing ceremony of the six co-operation agreements.
When asked if it would be a problem to get local enterprises to invest in Cuiheng, which is much farther from Macau than Hengqin Island, Chui said he believed the prospect of development in the zone will attract local companies. Chui said that the Guangdong government had given some good suggestions on how to develop the zone in Cuiheng, adding that Macau will “actively” participate in the development of the zone.
Cuiheng, the birthplace of the founder of modern China Dr Sun Yat-sen, lies some 30 kilometres north of Macau. Hengqin Island lies just a few dozen metres from Cotai.
Chui added “There are strong ties between the people of Macau and Zhongshan and there are a lot of [local] entrepreneurs who invested in Zhongshan a long time ago. Since the Guangdong government announced the plan, many companies in Macau, including large companies and SMEs, have expressed their interest [in investing in the zone]…I am optimistic about the development [of the project]”.
During the press conference, Zhu also said that Guangdong would continue to encourage Macau enterprises to invest in Guangdong with four measures and one of them is to provide space – land.
“The Macau government has a new idea that it wants to create a 10-square-metre Macau industrial park,” Zhu said. He did not elaborate.
Other measures include lowering the amount of capital Macau’s enterprises needs to invest in Guangdong.
Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On said in April that his government would apply to the central government to lease more land on Hengqin Island, which if approved, would be used for local enterprises to develop their business there. The Macao Daily News reported later that the plot of land would cover 10 square kilometres, about 1/3 of the size of the Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR).
Meanwhile, Zhu told reporters on the sidelines of a public event he attended as a guest that “the first [thing for the Hengqin government to do] is to reclaim a plot of land of 10-square-metres. Any discussion about how to co-operate or develop [the plot] can only start when there is some land available to discuss”.
Zhu made the remarks when he was asked by reporters about Chui’s proposal about leasing a 10-square-kilometre plot of land on Hengqin Island.
When asked by reporters about Chui’s land-lease proposal during a press conference at Macau Tower on Hengqin’s development, Hengqin New Area Administrative Committee Director Niu Jing said that had heard about Macau’s idea to lease a 10-square-kilometre area on the island from media reports. He also said that Hengqin would continue to support Macau to diversify its economic structure.