China’s Guangdong Province has transformed from an agricultural driven community onto the biggest domestic regional market with 110 m population, accounting for one-tenth of China’s GDP and a quarter of China import and export. It is now evidently clear that Guangdong, or Canton, with a GDP of $1.2 trillion, leads Chinese regions in both market size and economic scale. It has been the largest province in successive decades.
By Shifu A-Wei
The Chinese government has been working to increase its local and international investments as part of its five-year plan and its ‘Go Global’ strategy. Guangdong Province continues to play a leading role in boosting investments and growth for the actualization of China’s development aspirations.
Guangdong province took third place in the 2016/17 development ranking, retaining its position from 2014/15. More than 88 million tonnes in freight traffic passed through its 29 ports in 2013 alone. Guangdong attracted nearly 18% of all China’s FDI in the transportation sector between 2011 and 2015.
In 2013 Guangdong reached a significant milestone: $1.2 trillion in GDP which makes up one-ninth of China’s total and $1 trillion in import and export. It is the undisputed gateway of trading with China with its export.
Luo Jun, the Deputy Director General of Guangdong Foreign Affairs Office recently said that the Province is further opening up its economic reform through the promotion of its supply-side structural reform. “We are working hard to achieve all designated tasks by the Central Government, stabilize economic growth revitalization and improve the lives of our people,” Luo said told African Journalists during a visit the province.
Some of the major goals set by Officials of Guangdong Province for 2017 bare: increasing annual GDP by 7%, 15% increase in investment, 10% in social protection, general budget increase of 9%, reduce unemployment rate by 3%, accelerate high-tech institutions, build on the Guangdong free trade zone and improve on agricultural development, develop social security and cultural systems etc.
The central Government of China instructed Guangdong Province to be the pioneer of the famous Belt and Road initiative, which aims to strengthen Beijing’s economic leadership through a vast program of infrastructure building throughout China’s neighbouring regions. The belt relates to the six economic corridors, namely, Eurasian land bridge; China-Mongolia-Russia; China-Central Asia-West Asia; the China-Indochina peninsula; China-Pakistan; and Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar. The road relates to the maritime route. There are plans to build transport routes connecting major sea ports along the Belt and Road. These routes will establish Asia-Europe-Africa connectivity. Africa is reflected in the initiative with Kenya identified as a key maritime pivot point. The maritime route also involves ports along the eastern coast of Africa, horn of Africa and North Africa.
According to the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, the Belt and Road Initiative is the most important feature of China’s foreign policy. The Initiative aims to interconnect countries in Asia, Europe and Africa through an ambitious vision for infrastructure, economic and political cooperation.
Of particular significance to Africa is the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which can pave the way for greater transport connectivity, regional cooperation, trade and development.
Guangdong Province is committed to spend RMB20 billion (about US3billion) on the belt and road project this year. China and Africa continue to enjoy a very strong relationship and Guangdong Province has been one of the key players to this development.
Since China’s economic boom in the 1990s, thousands mostly from West Africa went to China. Most chose to reside in Guangzhou City in the Guangdong Province because of its wholesale trading markets supplied by nearby factories.
It was the growing economic and trade cooperation between Guangzhou and Africa that prompted Africans to come to Guangzhou, one of the most important international trade port cities of China. In Guangzhou, the situation Africans encountered totally differed from the imagination before they came to China.
Wen Xiaohuan, Deputy Director of Investment Promotion Division in the Guangdong Department of Commerce said the province recorded $34.94 billion on import and export to Africa in 2016, with a total of $10.79 billion import from the continent, and $4.03 billion worth of project from Africa currently in Guangdong province.