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Yangtze River Delta Integration Enters Second Half, Ningbo Catching Up and Having Bigger Say
2019-03-17Text Size: A A A

On March 13, a meeting was held to help cancel toll fees on the expressways crossing the border of Zhejiang Province was held. It was mentioned at the meeting that all toll booths on expressways connecting Zhejiang and Shanghai, Jiangsu and Anhui provinces would be removed by the end of 2019, which will be one year ahead the national schedule. This move is regarded as a symbol of a new round of efforts to integrate Yangtze River Delta Region.

During the Two Sessions, the national strategy of the integration of Yangtze River Delta Region draws much media attention. It is known that the formulation of Outline of Development of Integration of Yangtze Delta Region, led by National Development and Reform Commission, is under way, and opinions from national ministries and commissions as well as the three provinces and one municipality in question are now needed for the formulation work.

“If the integration of Yangtze River Delta Region were an article, it can be divided into two chapters with the historic moment when it became a national strategy as the dividing line,” said NPC deputy and the Secretary of Zhejiang Party Committee Che Jun on March 6 when delegates from Zhejiang took questions from the media.

 

Ningbo in the Foreground Both in Ports and Rail Transit

As the integration of Yangtze River Delta Region enters its second half, how will Ningbo, whose annual GDP just passed one trillion mark, play its part in the high-quality development of the integration? Shanghai Port, whose handling capacity of containers tops the world, and Ningbo-Zhoushan Port, whose cargo handling capacity ranks first globally, joined hands with each other on Feb 19 in Shanghai. An agreement was signed on the same day by the two sides, with Zhejiang Sea Port becoming a shareholder having a 20% stake of International Container Terminal Co., Ltd.(SSICT), a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Shanghai International Port (Group) Co, by means of cash capital increase. In the future, Ningbo-Zhoushan Port will join the development, construction, operation and management of the north side of Xiaoyang Mountain while SSICT serving as a platform.

This represents a new level in Shanghai and Zhejiang’s conscious efforts for integration and their cooperation both on land and at sea after the integration of Yangtze River Delta Region was established as a national strategy. Before that, Ningbo-Zhoushan Port already owned some terminals in Jiangsu Province including Tangcang Wugang Terminal and Nanjing Mingzhou Terminal, and had carried out business in cooperation with Anhui Province in the fields of containers and bulk cargo.

In the past few months, Ningbo was frequently mentioned in media reports on the integration of Yangtze River Delta Region.

Starting from Dec 1 last year, over 10,000 gates in 526 rail transit stations and inter-city rail stations in Shanghai, Hangzhou and Ningbo provide unified entrance services. With this policy in place, passengers from Ningbo can board the subways in Shanghai and Hangzhou simply with Ningbo rail transit app. In 2019, this service will reach more cities in Yangtze River Delta Region, such as Hefei, Suzhou and Nanjing.

 

In early September in 2018, over 80 tourism projects from Ningbo valued over 60 billion RMB yuan made their appearance in Shanghai, attracting 250 investors from all over the world, one third of which are among the Fortune 500. This represents a new starting point of Ningbo’s endeavor to pursue ecotourism and high-quality development of tourism. According to Ningbo Municipal Bureau of Culture, Radio, Television and Tourism, an increasing number of tourists from other areas in Yangtze Delta Region are now coming to Ningbo, among whom 10% are from Shanghai, reaching 5 million in a year and surpassing all the other provinces and municipalities.

Ningbo, as a member of Zhejiang, plays a vital role in the cooperation in many aspects in Yangtze River Delta Region on more occasions.

Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui signed a memorandum of understanding on the market integration of Yangtze River Delta Region earlier this year. Guided by Ministry of Commerce and State Administration for Market Regulation, the one municipality and three provinces will phase in unified market rules, unified credit administration and unified market regulation as part of the efforts to push forward the market integration process of the Yangtze River Delta Region. This is of great significance for the implementation of the integration of Yangtze River Delta Region as a national strategy and for the market integration of the whole country.

Last year, proposed and led by Shanghai International Group, an industry fund for the coordinated development of Yangtze River Delta based on regional advantages was established in Shanghai on Dec 29, and was open to closed-end funds for the first time. The total fund reaches 100 billion yuan, and a fund worth of 10 billion will be raised in the first phase. The fund will accelerate the integration of the industry chain in Yangtze River Delta Region by investing primarily in Hard & Core Technology.

 

Seize Opportunities Represented by Integration, Construct Golden South Wing of Yangtze River Delta

Grasping the opportunity of regional integration to build the “Golden South Wing” of the Yangtze River Delta

The 2019 government work report proposed that the Yangtze River Delta regional integration development should be upgraded to a national strategy to compile the development planning outline.

Back to more than four months ago --

On November 5, 2018, President Xi Jinping said in the opening ceremony of the first China International Import Expo that the regional integration development of the Yangtze River Delta should be promoted to a national strategy. It should cooperate with a series of developments and constructions such as the B&R construction, the coordinated development of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, the Yangtze River Economic Belt, and the construction of the Dawan District of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao to perfect China’s reform and opening up space layout.

President Xi’s instructions clarified the new direction of the integration of the Yangtze River Delta into a higher quality.

Shanghai is undoubtedly the leader in the development of the Yangtze River Delta, while Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui provinces are also playing their own important roles, according to the main leaders of Zhejiang Province. Zhejiang must grasp the opportunity to perform its role well in the integration stage of the Yangtze River Delta and build itself into the “golden south wing” of the Yangtze River Delta.

Ningbo needs to do well at the following three things: First, broaden its horizons and actively participate in the integration of the Yangtze River Delta, thereby further consolidating and strengthening Ningbo’s position as the economic center of the south wing of the Yangtze River Delta; The second is to deepen research, and work hard to formulate a three-year plan for Ningbo to participate in the integration of the Yangtze River Delta, and strategic space planning for the Qianwan New District and grand corridors of Yongjiang Science and Technology; Third, major platforms, projects, and initiatives to promote Ningbo should be fully reflected in relevant plans, especially the development of urban integration in Shanghai-Ningbo and Hangzhou-Ningbo.

The relevant departments in our city have already deployed well in advance. The Ministry of Communications said that the review of the Shanghai-Jiaxing-Ningbo Railway will be completed in 2019, and the Shanghai-Ningbo cross-sea passages will be incorporated into relevant national plans before 2020. At the same time, the first phase of the Hangzhou-Ningbo Expressway multiple track and the Hangzhou-Ningbo Intercity Railway will be accelerated. The development and reform department are actively docking with the national development and reform commission, and strive to bring a number of major projects such as the Shanghai-Jiaxing-Ningbo railway into the “Yangtze River Delta regional integration development planning outline”.

Bao Weike, deputy director of the Ningbo Urban and Rural Planning Research Center, who participated in the research on the “Ningbo 2049 Urban Development Strategy”, said that Ningbo will develop from the inter-connected to direct communication with the regional integration of the Yangtze River Delta as a national strategy. The specific measures include the following: Speeding up the construction of the Shanghai-Jiaxing-Ningbo high-speed railway; starting the research and construction of the Shanghai-Ningbo Intercity Railway as soon as possible; and comprehensively promoting the Dawan District construction of Shanghai-Hangzhou-Ningbo. 

Experts believe that Ningbo should make full use of its advantages in open economy, private economy, ports and the ocean, and strive to make greater contributions to the integration of the Yangtze River Delta. For example, the cities in the Yangtze River Delta can be used as the priority places for business cooperation, in order to promote the development in such fields as resource sharing, talent cooperation and project investment. In the past two years, Ningbo Jizhi Technology Co., Ltd. has invested 30 million yuan to acquire a 6.02% stake in Hefei Vision Display Technology Co., Ltd., a leading Micro-OLED display company in China, and has also established a wholly-owned subsidiary in Shanghai.

In November 2018, Ningbo performed outstandingly at the first China International Import Expo held in Shanghai. The city has organized nearly 10,000 professionals to participate, including more than 4,000 buyers and more than 160 overseas exhibitors. During this period, Ningbo   signed a large trade order with B&R countries, involving 23 projects with a total amount of $1.2 billion in trade docking conference.

Optimizing Business Environment

Pursuing a Integrated Demonstration Zone

“Among the 15 sub-provincial cities, Ningbo ranks eighth in terms of economic aggregate and sixth in terms of per capita GDP.” At the 2018 Ningbo Development Forum(winter conference), many experts and scholars believed that ningbo should actively integrate into the regional integration of the Yangtze River Delta, especially optimize and improve the business environment, so as to enhance the competitiveness of the city.

Since the second half of 2018, Ningbo has made frequent efforts to improve its business environment. In November, the Ningbo Municipal People's Government issued a number of opinions on creating a first-class business environment, focusing on eleven aspects, such as improving enterprise start-up, construction, accessibility to resources, strengthening intellectual property transfer and registration protection, improving the availability of real economic financing, and strengthening the protection of small and medium-sized investors, and put forward 80 specific measures. Subsequently, Ningbo was awarded the Top 10 Business Environment Demonstration Cities of China in 2018 during the 13th China Comprehensive Well-off Forum.

Ningbo is a major foreign trade city, with a total import and export volume of more than us $200 billion for many years. It is the seventh largest port in China, with a total import and export volume of more than us $120 billion in 2018. Ningbo actively optimizes the port environment, spares no efforts to reduce documents, procedures, time limit and costs, and accelerates the construction of “single window” in international trade, the formulation of “Ningbo Plan of Action for Building a World-class Port”, to achieve a high level of cross-border trade facilitation.

The deputy director of the Institute of Human Resources of the Development Research Center of the Municipal Government suggested that Ningbo should further optimize and improve its business environment. “The business environment is supposed to be better. It is suggested that the pilot reform of the national business environment assessment and the reform of simple cancellation registration should be taken as the leading tasks to optimize the city's business environment in 2019, and the construction of a first-class business environment should be deepened.” He believed that breakthroughs could be made in four aspects: first, to strengthen the coordination of departments and work together to create a “one-stop” service for simple cancellation registration; second, to expand the scope of application of simple cancellation registration; third, to further shorten the announcement time; and fourth, to speed up the establishment of a sound fault-tolerant mechanism.

It is reported that Shanghai Province is working closely with Jiangsu Province and Zhejiang province to formulate the Yangtze River Delta integrated development demonstration zone construction plan, striving to build a new benchmark for implementing new development concepts, a test field for integrating systems and mechanisms, and a new engine for leading the higher quality integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta.

Ningbo, as an important part of the world-class urban agglomeration in the Yangtze River Delta, will write a new chapter in the construction of the Yangtze River Delta integrated development demonstration zone with the first-class business environment, and build a world-class Bay Area together with core cities such as Shanghai and Hangzhou.


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