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Home> NewsBrief>Chinakeyword>NPC CPPCC Annual Sessions 2009
Call for further integration of PRD
Latest Updated at 2009-March-11 09:07:49

Further integration of the Pearl River Delta region would provide Hong Kong and Macao with a larger domestic market to weather the economic crisis, a Hong Kong-based expert said yesterday.

"The PRD economy relies heavily on export and thus has been hit the hardest by the financial tsunami. With the American and European market shrinking rapidly, the only way for businesses in the region to survive is through the domestic market," said Eric Li, former president of the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Li made the remark during a press conference co-presided by him and five other CPPCC deputies from Hong Kong and Macao.

"Guangdong has the manufacturing industry while we have one of the world's most advanced financial systems," he said. "We could carve out an area around the Hong Kong-Macao-Guangdong border and transform it into the region's largest center for manufacturing and service."

Christopher Cheung, chairman of the Hong Kong Securities Professionals Association, said that free exchange between renminbi and HK dollars would boost the region's investment potential.

"Under the current regulation, one can only draw a maximum of 20,000 yuan from Hong Kong banks each day," he said. "If such ceilings were abolished, Hong Kong banks would be able to provide the much-needed loans to businesses, especially the SMEs, on the mainland that have difficulty securing funds."

According to Cheung, a "futures market" should be established in the region to take advantage of its rich resources. "The mainland has gold, steel and other products. And Hong Kong has the expertise in financial management. Instead of relying on a foreign country, we should set up our own futures market in the region."

He added that Hong Kong should be made the mainland's offshore yuan settlement center.

"In the past few years, mainland businesses, encouraged by the government, have invested heavily in overseas financial markets, with more failures than successes," he said. "This has a lot to do with the lack of experience with western financial systems. That's where Hong Kong could help."

In a previous interview, Wu Suk Ching, founder of the mainland's first joint-venture company, the Beijing Air Catering Ltd, said: "Roles need to be re-defined if cities in the PRD region want closer cooperation and better integration."

According to Wu, the high concentration of talents in Shenzhen - graduates from the best Chinese universities flocked to the city in droves - means that it is no longer the right place for labor-intensive industries.

"The cost of labor has become too high for factories to operate," she said. "As a result, we should take advantage of Shenzhen's gathering talent pool and develop outsourcing in the area of high-tech."

Wu suggested moving the labor-intensive industries to the suburb of Guangzhou and further north.

"Don't' forget that Hong Kong, Macao, Guangzhou and their surrounding areas only constitute a tiny part of the PRD region. Guangdong is a large province and its northern part is actually quite poor," she said. "Moving the factories there could provide the much-needed employment not only to the locals, but also to people in the neighboring Hunan and Jiangxi Province."

Wang Yang, Party secretary of Guangdong, said there was a "clear overlap in industrial infrastructure" and roles among the delta's developed cities, including Guangzhou, Shenzhen and even Hong Kong to some degree, because each city had its own interests, advantages and leadership ambitions.

To avoid the "unhealthy competition", Wu said the central government needed to get more involved. "The central government should control, coordinate and regulate, and exert more oversight if a better delineation of roles can be achieved."

Areas in which convergence will be sought among the delta cities include urban planning, rail transit, information networks, energy base networks and urban water supply. Tourism, finance, education and environmental protection are also high on the cross-border cooperation agenda.

Jonathan Choi, president of Sun Wah Group, said he appreciated the fact that Hong Kong and Macao were included in the Pearl River Delta Development Framework, launched by the central government in January to guide the region's growth.

"We want to have more participation in the discussion of the region's future development, for example, its infrastructure planning and industrial restructuring," he said.

"Hong Kong could offer some valuable experiences when the government drafts its next five-year plan."

Editor: Yan

By: Zhao Xu Source: China Daily Website
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