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Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area to expand trade in services

Author  :  LI YONGJIE     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2018-09-28

GUANGZHOU—The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area needs to boost its services trade to facilitate deeper area integration, scholars said at a recent forum on Pan-Pearl River Delta regional cooperation.

The Framework Agreement on Deepening Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Cooperation in the Development of the Bay Area was signed in Hong Kong on July 1, 2017. The goal is to build the region into a world-class bay area and urban agglomeration, a more dynamic economic zone, an agreeable environment suitable for living, industry and tourism, and a demonstration zone for deep cooperation between the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong and Macao.

Since the reform and opening up, Hong Kong and Macao have developed a complementary industrial cooperation model with the Chinese mainland, especially with the Pearl River Delta region, said Mao Yanhua, a professor at the Institute of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao Development Studies at Sun Yat-sen University.

In their successful transition to a service-oriented economy, Hong Kong and Macao have made important contributions to the industrialization and the development of an export-oriented economy for the Chinese mainland. Hong Kong and Macao have played a role as a bridge and link for the Chinese mainland’s opening up to the outside world, serving as an important channel for it to attract foreign investment and expand foreign trade, Mao concluded.

Zheng Yongnian, director of the East Asian Institute at the National University of Singapore, said that the primary significance of the Greater Bay Area is the building of a world-class economic platform. Within the area, Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao are all facing the challenge of achieving sustainable development.

Since the reform and opening up, Guangdong has made great achievements, but the driving force for future development still needs to be improved. The quantitative economic growth has encountered bottlenecks, and the qualitative economic growth model has yet to be further developed, Zheng continued. Most industries in Hong Kong and Macao have transferred to the Pearl River Delta region. The two cities’ industrial structure is relatively narrow, and technological innovation is insufficient. The integration within the Greater Bay Area aims to eliminate the current bottlenecks in the three places and push their economies to a new level.

Shen Minghao, director of the Institute of Studies for the Greater Bay Area at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, said that within Guangdong, the Pearl River Delta region and other parts are not balanced. The development of Hong Kong, Macao and the Pearl River Delta region is not balanced either. These problems need to be solved through regional coordination.

At present, the economic scale and the density of production factors in the Greater Bay Area have already laid the foundation for economic growth and regional balanced development, Shen continued.

The integration of services trade is essential for the Greater Bay Area’s future, said Chi Fulin, president of the China Institute for Reform and Development.

In 2017, Guangdong’s trade in services accounted for 10.9 percent of its total foreign trade, and Hong Kong, 14.9 percent, far lower than the global average of around 24 percent in 2016. The relative lag in services trade has become a prominent problem in the Greater Bay Area.

“The time has come to promote the integration of services trade in the Greater Bay Area,” Chi said. Now that many infrastructure projects have been completed in the area, the key and difficult point in promoting the integration of services trade lies in the deep cooperation of the industrial systems, the direct integration of the market systems, the matching of the service systems, and the full opening of the service industry markets of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao, especially that of Guangdong.

“To build the Greater Bay Area, it is necessary to match business rules in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao through institutional innovation, to build a system of economic and trade rules meeting with high international standards, and to leverage the new advantages of international economic competition,” Shen said, adding that the highly developed economy in the Greater Bay Area will inevitably require professional services.

The Greater Bay Area must fully facilitate the liberalization of services trade, Shen concluded, adding that it is also important to develop professional services such as exhibition, tourism, law, accounting, arbitration and architectural design




(Edited and translated by JIANG HONG)









Editor: Yu Hui

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