Hong Kong residents are set to benefit greatly from the launch of the proposed Guangdong Free Trade Zone (FTZ) which could be an expanded version of Shenzhen's Qianhai Special Economic Zone, scholars and experts said.
Premier Li Keqiang told an executive meeting on December 12 that Guangdong and Fujian provinces and the northern port city of Tianjin will follow Shanghai's lead and establish FTZs in their respective jurisdictions.
The new zones would be based on the same model as Shanghai's, but each would have its own local characteristics, according to the State Council.
Raymond Yeung, a senior economist at ANZ, told China Daily that Hong Kong stands to reap benefits from the Guangdong FTZ as the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Cooperation Zone can be regarded as a preview.
When established, enterprises operating in the Guangdong FTZ can borrow renminbi directly from Hong Kong banks, just like what they are doing now in Qianhai, said Yeung, adding that the Guangdong FTZ is expected to be more open and closely connected with the SAR.
Yeung also noted that in Shanghai's FTZ, companies are allowed to invest beyond the boarder of the zone through overseas branches under "inter-company loan", and investments don't require the approval of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange.
"This could also happen in Guangdong, resulting in more companies there investing in Hong Kong," Yeung said.
Yuan Chiping, a professor and director at the Center for Studies of Hong Kong, Macao and the Pearl River Delta at Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, told the China Daily that the new economic zone could function like Qianhai.
"I expect banks, as well as other financial services companies in Hong Kong, to enter Guangdong province to compete directly with mainland banks and other companies after the zone is established," said Yuan.
Peng Peng, vice-president of the South Non-governmental Think-tank, said there are four innovative systems that Guangdong can learn from Shanghai including investment management, trade facilitation, financial innovation with foreign participation and a comprehensive supervision system.
According to the scheme submitted to the State Council last December, Guangdong's FTZ will cover a total area of about 931 square kilometers.
Hengqin's development will mainly cover tourism, commercial services, high-tech and cultural and creative industries according to provincial officials. By comparison, the development scale of Nansha is larger, including port facilities and dedicated manufacturing districts.
"The common characteristic of the three new areas is that they are all important carriers for promoting cooperation among Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao," said Yu Yunzhou, deputy director of Guangdongs's Development and Reform Commission.