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Qinzhou area poised to be hub for development

By ALEXIS HOOI and ZHANG LI in Qinzhou, Guangxi | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-04-07 12:24

"Since its launch in 2012, the China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park has made positive contributions to promoting bilateral economic and trade cooperation and the development of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries," he said.

This has further enriched China-ASEAN economic and trade cooperation "by jointly opening up a new model of international cooperation between the two countries, focusing on the strategic positioning of a flagship project of China-Malaysia investment cooperation, and demonstrating China-ASEAN cooperation via innovative channels to achieve remarkable results", Mo added.

Trade in specialty commodities between China and Malaysia has increased. For example, last year's imports of the shelled fruit durian, another Malaysian product that is popular among Chinese consumers, totaled more than 660 metric tons, with a value of about 32.9 million yuan. This pushed Malaysia's total durian exports to 1,032.2 tons, Mo said.

Similarly, imports of bird's nest products going through the zone totaled about 54.64 million yuan, and the industrial output value of the bird's nest industry hit about 43.2 million yuan, he said, adding that industrial chains in important sectors such as palm oil and pharmaceuticals are also being promoted.

Azlimi Zakaria, consul general of Malaysia in Nanning, the capital of the Guangxi region, said, "Just like its counterpart in Qinzhou, the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park has shown impressive growth over the years."

The government of Pahang state has agreed to expand the area of the Kuantan industrial park "in order to make full use of the park as a comprehensive and internationally recognized trade and investment destination", he said.

"That aside, the Kuantan Port itself is undergoing a major upgrade to gear itself as an international and competitive port to accommodate the growth of (the Kuantan industrial park) and the growing international trade activities within the region and beyond."

Mo, the Qinzhou Port Area deputy director, said growth in Qinzhou's port area itself has also been impressive. Last year, deals for at least 75 related projects with a total investment of close to 230 billion yuan were signed and $260 million in foreign capital was injected, accounting for 70 percent of the total in China (Guangxi) Pilot Free Trade Zone, he said. The port also recorded total import and export volume of 17 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 4.3 percent, while annual port throughput hit 136 million tons and container throughput reached 4 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) of cargo-increases of 14.4 percent and 31 percent, respectively.

Qinzhou's growth has helped power the wider Beibu Gulf area that includes China's southwestern coastal region. The Beibu Gulf-PSA International Container Terminal group, a major port player, recorded container throughput of 3.95 million TEUs last year, a year-on-year increase of 30.98 percent, contributing significantly to the development of a leading "gateway port for international land-sea trade", said Silas Png, the company's deputy general manager.

The trade, logistics and economic links place Guangxi in a crucial position for the country to tap opportunities from the RCEP, which includes China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and the 10 ASEAN members. The RCEP-the world's largest free trade agreement, covering one-third of the global population and 30 percent of global GDP-is set to be ratified before the end of this year, according to China's Ministry of Commerce.

Once the RCEP takes effect, countries are set to reduce tariffs in line with the agreement, fulfill commitments to open investment in the service sector, implement the rules in all areas of the pact, and further facilitate the integration of the regional supply chain and the setting of goods-inspection standards, with industrial chains also reinforced, according to Commerce Ministry and Customs officials.

Qinzhou's role in China-ASEAN cooperation arising from the RCEP will be innovative and wide-ranging, said Mo, the Qinzhou Port Area deputy director.

"We will build efficient and convenient logistics links, place secure and orderly information channels for connectivity, form mutually beneficial and win-win cross-border industrial chains, increase exchanges in education, science and technology and culture, and broaden communication channels and economic and trade cooperation channels," he said.

Malaysian consul general Azlimi said, "Malaysia-China cooperation will certainly gain more momentum after the ratification of the RCEP.

"The RCEP is also set to promote intraregional sourcing of raw materials, an integrated supply chain within the region, greater transparency and information sharing, recognition of international standards, as well as the protection of (intellectual property rights)."

Li Linhui, deputy director of the finance bureau for the administrative committee of the Qinzhou Port Area, said novel financial measures are already being rolled out in the zone. These include financial transactions being conducted more conveniently using China's renminbi as currency to reduce costs for stakeholders, with innovative "two-way flows" to facilitate businesses-the first of their kind in the country, he said.

"The program includes five pilot businesses, such as facilitating two-way cross-border RMB flows, cross-border RMB cross-bank financing, RMB loans for overseas projects, simplifying the offshore transfer procedures for RMB accounts, and cross-border transfer of RMB credit assets in China," Li said.

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