Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region is playing important role in China's overseas trade cooperation strategy, Hao Nan reports.
Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region has become an important gateway in China's opening up strategy and trade cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), thanks to a number of development opportunities created during the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015).
In 2011, for example, plans were discussed to develop the region as a role model of cooperation between China and ASEAN. In 2013, the State Council approved construction of a comprehensive border financial reform pilot zone in the region, and in 2014, development of the Pearl River-Xijiang River Economic Belt was upgraded to a national strategy.
In March 2015, President Xi Jinping said that to strategically reposition itself and aid its future development, Guangxi should become an international pathway to ASEAN countries, a new strategic pivot in Southwest and Central China's opening up strategy, and a dynamic portal connecting the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and the Silk Road Economic Belt.
The local government has taken a number of steps to realize these goals.
Silver Beach in Beihai, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, is popular with both foreign and domestic tourists because of its pleasant environment. [File photos / China Daily]
In 2015, it upgraded the Beibu Gulf Economic Zone, carrying out 256 major projects in the fields of infrastructure construction, industry transformation and port logistics.
A special fund was arranged to develop the Xijiang River into a "golden waterway" to the Pearl River Delta, Hong Kong and Macao.
During the 2011-2015 period, Guangxi accelerated subregional economic cooperation with the Pan-Beibu Gulf Zone and the Greater Mekong Subregion, speeded up construction of the Nanning-Singapore Economic Corridor and took part in negotiations on the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership between China, ASEAN and other partners.
Guangxi now has an annual cargo handling capacity of more than 200 million metric tons in its Beibu Gulf sea ports and has established a China-ASEAN port cities network. It has opened air routes to major ASEAN cities and finished construction of the Nanning-Pingxiang high-speed road, the Guangxi sector of China's first expressway to Southeast Asia.
Infographic shows increased trade in Guangxi. [Zhou Yang / China Daily]
Since 2013, the region has accelerated infrastructure construction in ports along its borders, putting 55 projects on its agenda with total investment of over 230 million yuan (about $35 million).
Guangxi has 25 dry, sea and river ports, including 19 national first-level open ports. Fangchenggang has navigable channels with more than 250 ports in over 100 countries and regions, and Qinzhou Port opened five direct trade routes to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore.
An increasing number of Guangxi companies tapped into overseas markets from 2011 to 2015.
Underground river in Bama village in Guangxi is a hidden treasure for local residents. [File photo / China Daily]
By the end of 2014, nearly 570 local enterprises had gone global and most of them invested in ASEAN, covering a broad range of major industries including agriculture, mining, chemicals and communication equipment.
Guangxi International Construction Engineering Company, for instance, set up branches in Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and East Timor.
In 2014, the company signed overseas contracts worth $130 million.
During the first 10 months of 2015, Guangxi invested $161 million in ASEAN countries, 10 times more than in the same period in 2014.
The region launched a project in November 2014 to simplify the procedures for customs clearance to facilitate cross-border trade.
Through its participation in the Belt and Road Initiative, Guangxi has witnessed sustainable growth in foreign trade and overseas investment in recent years.
Its total imports and exports trade volume rose from $23.33 billion in 2011 to $49 billion in 2015, of which trade with ASEAN rose from $9.56 billion to $27.7 billion.
From January to October last year, Guangxi's foreign trade hit 221.1 billion yuan, of which 110.7 billion yuan was with ASEAN.
From 2011 to 2014, investment from Guangxi companies in foreign countries rose at an annual rate of 62 percent, increasing from $400 million to $2.12 billion.
During the 12th Five-Year Plan period, Guangxi enhanced communications between young people in the region and those in ASEAN through cultural exchanges.
Last year, the first China-ASEAN Expo Tourism Exhibition was held in Guilin, attracting some 800 global enterprises, 300 foreign professional buyers and nearly 150,000 participants.
Foreign visitors learn to sing folk songs of the Zhuang people in Guangxi. [File photo / China Daily]