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PPRD, ASEAN work together for economy
Latest Updated by 2006-06-27 10:06:38
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>>> Click into related special: The 3rd PPRD Forum

Regular meetings between the Pan-Pearl River Delta (Pan-PRD) region and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) could be on the cards.

Recently the third annual forum and trade fair for Pan-PRD was held in Yunnan Province, but this time it featured a meeting with trade ministers from member states of ASEAN for the first time.

Somkid Jatusripitak, deputy prime minister of Thailand, said ASEAN and Pan-PRD could achieve rapid development through co-operation. He even proposed an annual Pan-PRD and ASEAN meeting and the building of an exchange network between the two regions.

Pan-PRD co-operation, under the principle of "market leads, government facilitates," covers various sectors such as infrastructure, tourism, agriculture, labour, education and public health.

It calls for the breakdown of trade barriers among regions and aims to realize a fair and open market system by 2020.

Co-operation in the Pan-Pearl River Delta (Pan-PRD) region, the largest economic bloc in China, has been good since its inception two years ago and the area is moving towards a common market.

Initiated by the Guangdong provincial government, the co-operation encompasses the southern provinces of Fujian, Jiangxi, Hunan, Guangdong, Hainan, Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan, the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, and the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macao.

The nine provinces account for about one-fifth of the mainland's total land. They also have one-third of the nation's population and one-third of the country's gross domestic product.

Given the fact that 11 administrative regions are involved as well as the sheer size of the region, the idea was doubted by some from the start as too broad to yield any realistic results.

But Xu Changle, deputy director of the Yangtze River Delta Development Research Institute of East China Normal University, saw recent developments as greatly raising the status of the region.

Xu said economic co-operation in Pan-PRD would become more foreign-oriented. Breakthroughs should occur in capitalizing on resources and markets both at home and abroad.

Overseas capital would play a role in domestic and cross-border infrastructure projects and joint environmental protection, he said.

Progress in Pan-PRD co-operation is also seen in various agreements reached, said Chen Guanghan, director of Sun Yat-sen University's Centre for Studies of Hong Kong, Macao and the Pearl River Delta.

This year's forum yielded planning for furthering ties in energy and in building a comprehensive transportation network.

More than 28,000 kilometres of national highways are planned in the region, with about 10,000 kilometres already completed, said Weng Mengyong, vice-minister of communications. Planned regional highways in Pan-PRD measure 37,000 kilometres.

Yunan, Guizhou and Sichuan will be major power exporting provinces, and Guangdong the main importing one in the next five years. Guizhou will also be the major coal exporting province, with demand from other provinces to grow.

Some industries from the more developed coastal provinces, which are facing higher costs of land and labour, are already locating to the less wealthy inland provinces, said Chen.

And a lot of privately held enterprises in Guangdong, for example, are interested in investing in inland provinces to take advantage of the abundant resources there; some have already made the move, he added.

Huang Xiaoming, vice-president of Chinese home appliances giant Midea Group, based in Foshan, Guangdong, said Pan-PRD means a huge and complementary market and business opportunities.

Better co-ordination among the governments in the region should help investors make their decisions, he said.

Midea acquired an automobile venture in Yunnan Province in 2004, partly to target the ASEAN market.

The provinces in Pan-PRD have combined their respective strategies with regional co-operation.

Fujian, for example, hopes co-operation will help boost the area along the western bank of the Taiwan Straits.

Both Yunnan and Guangxi have offered to serve as a bridge between Pan-PRD and ASEAN.

Co-operation must be a success given the increasing competition from economic areas in the Yangtze River Delta area in East China and around Bohai Bay in the north, said Luo Kaifu, president of China International Freight Forwarders Association and former chairman of logistics giant Sinotrans.

Editor: Yan

By: Li Wenfang Source: China Daily Website
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