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Yearender: Macao makes solid progress in economic diversification in 2023

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-12-26 16:16

MACAO -- Despite an unusual cold wave, prosperity has returned to China's Macao Special Administrative Region near the end of this year, with major tourist spots and business areas crowded with tourists.

During 2023, the Macao SAR government has led various walks of society to pragmatically and orderly put in place strategies for appropriate economic diversification by reviving the economy and expanding market and tourist sources, making solid progress towards economic diversification.

Efforts have also been stepped up to administer the gaming industry in accordance with the law and to advance the building of the Guangdong-Macao in-depth cooperation zone in Hengqin, neighboring Zhuhai city. A series of plans and measures have been rolled out to set clearer goals and tasks for Macao's industrial development.


The Macao SAR government put forward the strategy for appropriate economic diversification in its policy address for 2023 to build Macao into a world tourism and leisure center and develop its priority industries of big health, modern finance, high technology, exhibition and convention, as well as culture and sports.

In the past year, the government stepped up interactive development between the tourism industry and multiple other industries, focusing on enriching community tourism elements and revitalizing the community economy to attract more tourists to consume in old town areas with rich historical and cultural heritage.

Data showed the number of visitor arrivals to Macao during the first three quarters of this year expanded by 3.6 times year on year.

Yu Wai Hang, secretary-general of the Macao Innovation Development Research Association, said the tourism and leisure industry, a pillar industry of Macao, achieved a satisfactory recovery this year, with its industrial structure becoming more diversified. "This is very helpful to the development of different sectors, including performances, entertainment, sports and culture."

Macao also sped up developing its bond market, improving financial infrastructure, and promoting the bond market to be connected to the international market. As of September this year, outstanding bonds issued or listed in Macao reached 447.2 billion patacas (about 55.6 billion US dollars).

The Micro Connect Macao Financial Assets Exchange officially started operation in August, becoming the world's first Daily Revenue Obligations financial market. The exchange allows investors to directly invest in the large number of mainland small and micro firms through DRO and generate diversified steady returns. Several other licensed financial institutions also started operations.

In 2023, the Macao SAR government followed up on around a dozen investment plans on scientific and technological industries, and supported a batch of research fruits to commercialize.

"Continuous input from the government was crucial to small- and medium-sized scientific and technological innovation enterprises in urgent need of transformation and upgrading after the COVID-19 pandemic," said Yu.

Macao also hosted a series of large-scale exhibitions and conventions in the past year, winning the title of Asia's best convention city in 2023. Several high-level sports events, such as the annual motorsports event Grand Prix and the World Table Tennis Champions Macao, effectively pushed for the interactive development of Macao's sports industry and related industries.

Data showed Macao's gross domestic product leapt by 77.7 percent year on year in real terms in the first three quarters of 2023, with the economy recovering to around 77.4 percent of the same period of 2019. Consumer prices remained steady. The unemployment situation continuously improved.

Ho Iat Seng, chief executive of the Macao SAR, said various walks of life in Macao have continuously increased their confidence in the city's economic development.


Ho stressed on various occasions that economic diversification remains the only road for solving the deep-rooted problems in Macao's socioeconomic development and the prime administrative task for the Macao SAR government.

In November, the government released a development plan for Macao's appropriate economic diversification from 2024 to 2028, the first systematic industrial development plan issued in Macao.

The document outlines specific planning and arrangements for developing Macao's industries of tourism and leisure, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and big health, modern finance, new and high technologies, conventions and exhibitions, and culture and sports, based on the second five-year plan of the Macao SAR and the city's appropriate economic diversification strategy.

Lei Wai Nong, secretary for economy and finance of the Macao SAR government, said Macao is more prepared, determined and confident than ever to achieve the goal of economic diversification thanks to the implementation of various supporting policies from the central authorities.

Liu Chengkun, director of the Institute for Sustainable Development, Macao University of Science and Technology, believed it is now basically mature for Macao to "give its answers" to economic diversification. "With specific policies, Macao's economic diversification process has already started," Liu said.


Last week, the Macao Medical Center of Peking Union Medical College Hospital, an elite hospital in the Chinese mainland, started a trial operation in Macao, focusing on the medical treatment of difficult and complicated diseases.

This largest medical facility in Macao so far marks the first large-scale public hospital built in the city since its return to the motherland over two decades ago, and the first case of such collaboration between the Macao SAR and the mainland under "one country, two systems" aiming to help with Macao's economic diversification.

TCM formulations made in Macao or in the mainland have been approved to be used in hospitals in the other side. Measures have also been taken to help Macao-registered TCM businesses to manufacture in Hengqin, effectively promoting integrated development of the health sector in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

On Thursday, China's National Development and Reform Commission unveiled plans to boost the development of the in-depth cooperation zone in Hengqin and the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone in Shenzhen.

Ho said the plan sets more specific development goals for the Hengqin in-depth cooperation zone in three stages by 2024, 2029 and 2035, and puts forward a series of policies on developing new industries and opening up new systems in the zone, expanding space and opportunities for the development of Macao businesses and for the work and life of Macao residents.

The plan will inject strong impetus into the industrial diversification and long-term development of Macao, which is significant to the long-term prosperity and stability of Macao and its integration into overall national development, said Ho.

"The Macao SAR government will seize opportunities brought by the development of Hengqin and Qianhai in alignment with Macao's economic diversification plan, and leverage Macao's location advantages to further promote coordinated development of Macao and the Greater Bay Area," added Ho.

Thanks to more convenient transportation in the Greater Bay Area and optimized customs clearance policies, more and more Macao residents choose to visit Guangdong and Hong Kong on a frequent basis, providing broader space and depth for Macao's diversified development.

Ip Kuai Peng, vice rector of the City University of Macao, suggested that Macao should fully leverage its advantages in system, location, customs policies, and language, and step up regional cooperation to make further achievements in economic diversification and contribute more to the country's overall development.

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