It is amazing how time flies as Beibu Gulf Economic Zone (BGEZ) has been established for 10 years, and remarkable progress has been registered in its development over the years, making an impressive miracle-“Beibu Gulf Speed”. Nevertheless, such tremendous achievement is, to a large extent, attributed to BGEZ’s superior geographical location adjacent to the ASEAN region, as well as the construction and development of China-ASEAN Free Trade Area.
Development oriented towards ASEAN
BGEZ has been committed to taking the cooperation with ASEAN as its main focus in the development process over the past few years. To date, BGEZ has developed into a significant platform for advancing bilateral cooperation between ASEAN and China after ten years’ development. Looking back, together with ASEAN countries, BGEZ has been committing itself to setting up a cooperative mechanism, establishing cooperative platforms, and carrying out the mutually beneficial cooperation in connectivity construction, tourism, financial services, cross-border economic zone construction, etc. Thus, numerous new breakthroughs and highlights continue to emerge in the progress of cooperation between ASEAN and BGEZ.
BGEZ has been working vigorously to promote the establishment of ASEAN-China Economic Officials’ Meeting on Pan-Beibu Gulf Economic Cooperation, Pan-Beibu Gulf Economic Cooperation Secretariat and Pan-Beibu Gulf Economic and Cooperation Investment Promotion Center, push forward the setting-up of intergovernmental consultation mechanism between Vietnam and China and the involvement of Pingxiang-Dong Dang & Dongxing-Mong Cai Cross-border Economic Cooperation Zones in China-Vietnam economic and trade cooperation mechanism, and also support and implement a series of bilateral exchange activities such as China-ASEAN Expo, Forum on China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, China-ASEAN Cultural Industry Forum, China-ASEAN Summit Forum on Financial Cooperation & Development and China-ASEAN Mining Cooperation Forum over the previous years.
As for connectivity, emphasis has been placed on the progress of bilateral cooperation with ASEAN in such fields as key ports, expressways, railways, and aviation. At present, a connectivity transportation network covering sea, land and air has been built between ASEAN and China. In sea-based connectivity, shipping routes have been established with 47 seaports in ASEAN and over 200 seaports in more than 100 countries or regions. There are 25 Beibu Gulf Port’s foreign trade shipping routes accessible to the full range of main ports in the ASEAN region, and there are 9 domestic trade shipping routes having access to the full coverage of the coastal ports of China. Based on National Transport & Logistics Public Information Platform (LOGINK) and Northeast Asia Logistics Information Service Network (NEAL-NET), China-ASEAN Port Logistics Information Platform has been set up, including developing the ASEAN-oriented business platform system, establishing China-ASEAN Port Logistics Information Center, and making 46 ASEAN port cities linked on the basis of Qinzhou. In land-based connectivity, a total of 6 expressways, from Beibu Gulf to several provinces in China, such as Yunnan, Guizhou, and Guangdong, as well as ASEAN countries like Vietnam, are open to traffic. The high-speed railways from BGEZ to Hunan, Guizhou and Guangdong have been completed and put into operation, and the construction of BGEZ-Yunnan high-speed railway is being accelerated, which is projected to be completed in 2016. Thus, a north-south land-based route to link the Belt and Road is taking shape. In air-based connectivity, energetic efforts have been made to develop new air routes. To date, Nanning has opened 12 direct flights to ASEAN countries, and BGEZ’s airlines system continues improving.
In terms of cross-border economic cooperation zone, the bilateral trade development has been promoted, with the focus on innovating cooperation model, cooperation contents and cooperation fields: all the relevant parities in BGEZ have been building Pingxiang-Dong Dang & Dongxing-Mong Cai Cross-border Economic Cooperation Zones in the border areas, together with Vietnam, speeding up the construction of China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park, Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park, China-Thailand (Chongzuo) Industrial Park, and China-Indonesia Fangchenggang Industrial Park, and steadily expanding the economic and trade exchange cooperation with ASEAN and enriching the open platform towards ASEAN on the basis of cross-border and transnational cooperation zones and bonded logistics system.
With respect to finance, much work has been done to accelerate the cross-border RMB trade settlement in China and ASEAN, push ahead with personal direct investment business pilot areas oriented at ASEAN, conduct border trade export business, and establish underwriting pilot projects for the cross-border settlement of RMB trade. In 2011, China-ASEAN Cross-border RMB Business Settlement Center (Guangxi Beibu Gulf Bank)--the first of cross-border RMB business settlement centers established by local banks in Guangxi--is committed to boosting the exchange cooperation between ASEAN and Guangxi in the fields of economy and finance.
In regard to tourism, people-to-people bond is thought of as a work priority. Concerted efforts have been made to promote the construction of Pan-Beibu Gulf Tourism Circle, Nanning-Singapore Transnational Tourism Land-route Access and China-Vietnam Ban Gioc-Detian International Tourism Cooperation Zone, and foster Guilin-Nanning-Dongxing-Mang Cai-Halong Golden International Tour Route. In addition, E-port has been completed in the border areas between China and Vietnam, and the personnel turnover has been all the more fast.
Oriented towards ASEAN for the benefits of CAFTA
Overall, free trade areas are entitled to enjoy preferential tax revenues and the customs’ special supervisory policies, so the benefits of free trade areas are regarded as the largest benefits of China’s reform nowadays. BGEZ, as the sole region linked with ASEAN countries in both sea-based route and land-based route, is undoubtedly the most convenient place to share the benefits of China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA). “Guangxi, particularly BGEZ, acts as a participant, booster and beneficiary in the construction of CAFTA,” said Ma Biao, the then Governor of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
Influenced by CAFTA, tremendous benefits have been brought to Guangxi by the closer cooperation between ASEAN and BGEZ. “2015 marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of BGEZ. Over the years, by using one fifth of Guangxi’s total land area, one third of Guangxi’s total economic output and two fifth of its fiscal revenues have been produced,” said Xiao Yingzi, Secretary of the Municipal Committee of Qinzhou, Guangxi. According to the statistics of Nanning, Beihai, Fangchenggang and Qinzhou, the economic aggregate of BGEZ increased by a large margin from about 141.9 billion yuan in 2006 to over 586.73 billion yuan in 2015, with an annual increase of 13.55 percent, and BGEZ’s GDP in the proportion of a total of Guangxi tends to rise year by year, increasing from 29.5 percent to 34.9 percent; BGEZ’s fiscal revenues approached one hundred billion yuan in 2015, with an annual increase of 20.95 percent, 3.95 percent higher than a total of the whole Guangxi; and the total import & export volume of BGEZ increased from 2.69 billion yuan in the early days to around 24.09 billion yuan. Such steady-state growth has manifested the development strength of BGEZ.
The reason why BGEZ developed by facing ASEAN is that its geographical location is close to the ASEAN region, which is the most important cause. Developing relations with ASEAN in a tactical way would make BGEZ accessible to the benefits in the construction of CAFTA to a greater extent; meanwhile, BGEZ would play a more significant role in and enjoy much more dividends from the opening-up and development of border areas and regional cooperation. For the purpose of making the overall planning and coordination for the opening-up and cooperation of BGEZ towards ASEAN, Beibu Gulf Economic Zone & Cooperation with ASEAN Office of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region was renamed in 2014.
Li Yanqiang, Executive Deputy Director of Beibu Gulf Economic Zone & Cooperation with ASEAN Office of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China, said that Guangxi had applied for the establishment of Beibu Gulf Free Trade Pilot Zone (BGFTPZ) in October 2014 and December 2015 respectively. The designing scheme for BGFTPZ is characterized by the orientation towards ASEAN, with the focus on putting it into trial operation in developing and enhancing relations with ASEAN, making an overall planning for land and sea routes, and opening the territory of nationalities. Proactive approaches must be taken for exploring the facilitation of investment and trade, cross-border financial cooperation and supervision, construction of regional connectivity system, transnational cooperation in industrial chains between the two sides, as well as accelerate the construction of BGFTPZ. For instance, as for Qinzhou, which is applying for building itself into the core area of BGFTPZ, it opened 7 new direct shipping routes for domestic and foreign trade in 2015, such as Qinzhou-Singapore, Qinzhou-Kuantan (Malaysia), and Qinzhou-Ho Chi Minh, with a total of over 20 liner routes for domestic and foreign trade, laying a solid foundation for submitting the application. As of now, the application for the establishment of BGFTPZ has been set to enter a final round of the deliberation and approval. Overall, it is foreseeable that BGEZ will make all the more glorious achievements and new miracles.
Take the Lead in the Next Decade Based on Remarkable Achievements in the Last Decade
--Summary of the Forum of 10th Anniversary of the
Establishment of Guangxi Beibu Gulf Economic Zone
written by Li Yizhi / translated by Mo Tingting
or the last 10 years Guangxi Beibu Gulf Economic Zone (BGEZ) has shot up with dramatic changes at a remarkable “Beibu Gulf Speed” from 2006 to 2016. Its GDP topped 586.732 billion yuan by 2016, rising more than 3 times from 141.809 billion yuan in its early days; the fiscal revenue increased by 4.54 times; the port handling capacity rose by 3 times; and the total volume of imports and exports grew by threefold, claiming half of market share of Guangxi’s foreign trade.
Depending on concerted efforts of numerous people and close attention from the government of China, a thriving and promising BGEZ has emerged in the world, achieving remarkable achievements and satisfying results.
At the Forum concerning BGEZ’s “Summary on Ten-years Achievements, Outlook for Industrial Upgrading and Development” held in Nanning, the provincial capital of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, on March 20, 2016, the Chairman of China Center International for Economic Exchange (CCIEE) Zeng Peiyan expressed his delight to be involved in the construction of BGEZ, as he had witnessed BGEZ’s formation and growth all the way.
Zeng pointed out that, having experienced ten-years opening up and development, BGEZ has significantly enhanced its comprehensive strength, constantly lifted its regional development strategic position, expanded opening up and cooperation with surrounding regions in a pragmatic manner, and emphasized on its highlights through carrying out pilot schemes in reform and innovation. BGEZ has not only become a core growth pole in leading rapid growth of Guangxi, but also one of the most dynamic regions with fastest economic growth in the coastal areas of China, and one of the regions closest to ASEAN with most effective cooperation.
Zeng indicated that during the 13th Five-Year Plan period, China is still in an important period of strategic opportunities. According to the general layout of “Five-in-One” and the planning of “Four Comprehensives”, BGEZ should be committed to opening up and development by proactively being involved in national programming and expanding opening up and cooperation, insisting on innovation driving, scientific planning and concentrating on priority development.
Based on the deep understanding of Guangxi’s “Three Orientations” formulated by the state, and combining with self characteristics and advantages, BGEZ should endeavor to build an upgraded version of itself and carry forward its all-round opening up and development by capturing its new positioning for future development, exerting comprehensive advantages of the policies, forging a new hub for cooperation between the Belt and Road construction and the coopertation with ASEAN, exploring new model for industrial upgrading and development, and paying attention to the gathering and radiation effect of central cities in coastal areas, Zeng said.
BGEZ has already been a powerful engine for the economic and social development of Guangxi. Peng Qinghua, Party Secretary of CPC Guangxi Committee remarked that the opening up and development of BGEZ in the last decade can be regarded as an epitome of the expansion of Guangxi’s opening up after entering the 21st century.
Peng indicated that now BGEZ has already served as the main access to the great international channel, the core area of strategic fulcrum, the important gateway for organic linkage of the Belt and Road, embracing a golden opportunity that 2016 is the outset of the state’s Thirteenth Five-Year Plan, as well as the beginning of the next decade after the development and construction of BGEZ during the last decade, adding that there are considerable dividends and preferential policies, and BGEZ will definitely make great-leap-forward development.
Peng suggested that BGEZ as a region enjoying the most powerful economic strength and most steadily growth will determine whether BGEZ can implement upgrade and development, take the lead in building a comprehensive well-off society in Guangxi and play a role as an engine, which will exert huge influences on the realization of Guangxi’s development objective under the Thirteenth Five-Year Plan.
It is learned that during the Thirteenth Five-Year Plan period, by 2020, the GDP of four cities within BGEZ, namely, Nanning, Beihai, Qinzhou and Fangchenggang, will be over 40 percent of that of Guangxi; BGEZ will also strive for “Three over Tens-of-thousands”: both gross regional production and the total industrial output value over designated size will surpass 1 trillion yuan, and the per capita GDP will exceed US$ 10,000; the growth rate of major economic indicators such as Hi-tech Industries, tertiary industry, coastal port handling capacity and per capita disposable income of urban and rural residents will be at the forefront of Guangxi.
To achieve these goals, BGEZ should insist on and implement five development concepts, comprehensively deepen reform and opening up, and break the bottle-necks; BGEZ should aim at an ungraded version of itself through facilitating the cross-border trade transportation, accelerating the reform of the supply side, forming a modern industrial system of high end, high quality and high efficiency, and forging an ungraded version of urban integration in BGEZ.
At last, Peng emphasized that the relevant departments at all levels of BGEZ shall make additional and more contributions to the realization of “Two Completions”, namely “the completion of building a comprehensive well-off society” and “basic completion of a new strategic fulcrum for the opening up and development of Southwest and South-central China”, by giving full play to the “spirit of the Beibu Gulf” and taking the initiative to shoulder great responsibilities, with concerted efforts.