Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, will develop its Nansha district, a newly-approved free trade zone in the heart of the Pearl River Delta, into an international shipping and logistics center to help expand its economy, said Chen Jianhua, mayor of the city, on Friday.
"We have an ancient port with a history of more than 1,000 years in Nansha, and this will come in handy for the development of the free trade zone," said Chen.
According to Chen, construction of the third phase of the Guangzhou port, which currently has a handling capacity of 10 million twenty-foot equivalent unit, will be completed soon.
When construction of the fourth phase, which will begin this year, is completed, the port will have a handling capacity of 26 million TEUs, making it one of the world's top five ports in terms of handling capacity, according to Chen.
"Nansha, in the southernmost part of the Pearl River, which also faces Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, also has advantages in terms of development of shipping services," Chen said.
At a news conference following the local people's congress annual session, which concluded on Friday, Chen said enhanced shipping and logistics services would help facilitate development of the free trade zone.
The Nansha free trade zone is part of the Guangdong Free Trade Zone, which also includes Hengqin in Zhuhai and Qianhai in Shenzhen. The zone was approved by the central government at the end of last year.
"We will also push up development of infrastructure, including an airport, expressways, subways and railways to build closer links between the zone and the downtown area and neighboring cities," Chen said.
The city will also pump in investments of about 1 billion yuan ($160.1 million) to build a commercial airport in Nansha.
A railway linking Nansha with the Pearl River Delta cities of Zhongshan, Foshan and Jiangmen, a tunnel between Hong Kong and Zhongshan and a high-speed subway that connects with the downtown area of Guangzhou will be built in the free trade zone, according to Chen.
"We are determined to build the Nansha free trade zone into a fast and efficient shipping and logistics center, which will help expand the local economy," Chen said.
According to a government work report, the Nansha free trade zone will copy the business model of Shanghai, including a "negative list" management on foreign investment. It will also conduct a series of new pilot policies including tax rebates based on port departures, cross-border renminbi loans and offshore data services.
"We will build a business framework in line with international trade and investment practices," Chen said.
Liu Jianghua, former deputy director of the Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences, said Guangzhou's move to build a shipping and logistics center in Nansha will help attract increasing flows of passengers and business opportunities.
"Without fast and efficient transport services, the free trade zone cannot become an international finance and trade center," Liu said.