When delving into the Development Plan on Guangxi Beibu Gulf Economic Zone, we find that supportive factors such as neighbors of Vietnam and land ports access to ASEAN countries help Dongxing (Chongzuo City) and Pingxiang (Fangchenggang City) become functional groups in Guangxi Beibu Economic Zone (BGEZ). The deepening border opening-up and development as well as the building of the Belt and Road bring the above-mentioned port cities with a new round of development.
By grasping opportunities and utilizing its unique location, Dongxing has facilitated the implementation of the Development Plan on BGEZ and better clarified BGEZ’s position targeted at China’s southwest, south, central south and ASEAN.
Li Yanqiang, Executive Deputy Director of Beibu Gulf Economic Zone & Cooperation with ASEAN Office of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, pointed
out at the 9th Border Port City Mayor Forum of China held in December 2015 that port cities like Pingxiang should grasp opportunities brought by the Belt and Road Initiative, accelerate the construction of port connectivity, engage in featured industries, establish cross-border trade and economic platform for cooperation so as to achieve the win-win results with other port cities of ASEAN countries. On such an occasion, Dongxing and Pingxiang have started to take their steps forward.
Taking Measures to Upgrade Port Connectivity
Linked by mountains and rivers, Pingxiang and Vietnam are neighbors and share prosperity in border trade. Sun Ruijun, Vice-secretary of Pingxiang Party Committee and Mayor of Pingxiang briefed in the Forum that Pingxiang has strived to strengthen the construction of port connectivity by adopting different measures.
With regard to customs clearance facilitation, Pingxiang, together with Vietnam, has planned to implement the policies of “Two Countries, One Inspection”. “Three One-time” (namely, “one-time declaration, one-time check and one-time release”) in customs declaration and inspection has been conducted to raise customs clearance efficiency in Pingxiang, thus making itself No. 1 in Guangxi for the speed of customs declaration. To make clearance time more feasible and abundant, China and Vietnam also extended extra time for passengers and cargoes customs clearance since July 1, 2015.
In terms of port infrastructure construction, with an investment of 860 million yuan, Pingxiang Border Trade Logistics Center, which is added to the annex of “Dry Ports of International” identified by Intergovernmental Agreement on Dry Ports of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), will be put into use. Also, Pingxiang Fruit Irradiation Quarantine Processing Center will become a demonstration project in China to conduct the electronic irradiation and quarantine as well as high-tech fruit preservation. During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Vietnam in November 2015, Guangxi (China) and Lang Son (Vietnam) inked an agreement to establish exclusive cargoes channels between Friendship Pass (China) and International Friendship Border Gate (Vietnam) as well as between Puzhai (China) and Tan Thanh (Vietnam), realizing the separation between passengers and goods.
In addition, Pingxiang is striving to optimize its port infrastructure and prepare for the train commissioning of “bringing ASEAN fruits to Beijing”. Meanwhile, Ping’er Bridge has been completed and put into operation, lifting Pingxiang’s infrastructure to a new level.
“Internet Plus” Opens an E-era in Borderland
Foreign trade, red wood and tourism are three mainstays in Pingxiang. The city has maintained rapid growth in foreign trade. Specializing in redwood furniture, farm and sideline products, textile and clothing as well as hardware mechanical and electrical products, a distribution center extending to China’s domestic market and ASEAN countries like Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand has taken shape. Meanwhile, Pingxiang Redwood Relics and Museology City was listed as the national AAAA grade scenic spot in 2014. Its ASEAN cross-border tour with routes connecting Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Myanmar is welcomed by tourists. The emerging industries including import and export processing, professional markets and modern logistics prosper in Pingxiang and have accelerated its economy to be port-oriented.
According to Sui Ruijun, by conforming to the trend of “Internet Plus” and relying on import & export trade as well as the modern logistics, Pingxiang has made efforts to foster Internet-based industries and cultivate a raft of E-commerce enterprises.
The Internet has given wings to Pingxiang, which can be seen from Pingxiang’s increasingly influential redwood trade website, the launch of E-commerce trading platform for Pingxiang Redwood Relics and Museology City as well as the building of China- ASEAN (Pingxiang) E-commerce Information Harbor.
As China’s largest imported base for ASEAN fruits, the city has also fully utilized its advantages to develop fruit-oriented E-commerce industry. In September 2015, China-ASEAN E-commerce Industrial Park was officially unveiled with the aim of establishing a cradle for emerging E-commerce industry.
Pingxiang Integrated Free Trade Zone, cross-border industrial park as well as the cross-border E-commerce warehouse will better promote the development of cross-border E-commerce business. At the same time, the support and involvement from government and SMEs enterprises also add new vigor to Internet-based industry.
Reforms to Promote Borderland Financial Integration
The BGEZ, as the frontier linking ASEAN countries along the Maritime Silk Road, needs to undertake the mission of promoting the “Five Approaches” (namely, “Policy Coordination, Facilities Connectivity, Unimpeded Trade, Financial Integration and People- to-people Bond”). Pingxiang has taken a leading and exploratory role in facilitating the leap-forward development of border financial reform.
Chen Jianlin, Mayor of Dongxing City (Guangxi, China) briefed in the Forum that positive results have been achieved by focusing on six respects. Firstly, it expanded the service of cross-border RMB settlement for individual. As of December 2015, the volume of cross- border has amounted to 55.483 billion yuan, among which individual settlement occupied 32.289 billion yuan. Secondly, it set up a service platform for ASEAN currencies in Pingxiang, creating the first pilot area with exchange concession for RMB and VND exchange. Thirdly, the China (Dongxing Experimental Zone)- ASEAN Currency Business Center was established to be an important reference as well as a positive initiative for financial cooperation between China and ASEAN.
Besides, Pingxiang was permitted to offer individual local-foreign currency exchange franchise business. With a view to adding momentum to fulfill “Financial Integration” and realize RMB internationalization, Pingxiang also took a lead in establishing cooperative mechanisms of cross-border anti-counterfeit currency and setting up economic demonstration zones in border area.
The border opening-up and development as well as the building of the BGEZ constitute an organic whole. Being a component of the BGEZ, Dongxing and Pingxiang need to take responsibility in exerting their portal influences and promoting border export processing, trade logistics and border tourism, etc. In a word, to seize opportunities and promote the prosperity in borderland is of positive significance to the development of the BGEZ both on land and at sea.