More investments are pouring into cities on the west bank of the Pearl River Delta for projects in advanced equipment manufacturing, because the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area is bringing in new business opportunities, experts said.
In Zhaoqing, southern Guangdong province, nearly 30 billion yuan ($4.35 billion) was invested in the sector this year, up 200 percent year-on-year.
That includes six projects that received 1 billion yuan or more each. Some 29 projects received more than 100 million yuan each.
Zhaoqing considers advanced equipment manufacturing a key driver for the city’s industrial development. It is making great efforts to promote innovation to improve quality and enhance efficiency of the industry, Zhaoqing Vice-Mayor Chen Xuanqun said.
The national grand plan to integrate nine Guangdong cities — Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Zhuhai, Foshan, Zhongshan, Huizhou, Dongguan, Zhaoqing and Jiangmen — with Hong Kong and Macao presents an opportunity for cities on the west bank of the Pearl River Delta to give play to their land and labor cost advantages, and achieve better growth, she said.
Before the construction of the Greater Bay Area, the economies of those cities have been relatively weak due to limited business contact with major cities in the region, such as Shenzhen and Hong Kong.
Baolong Auto is one of the enterprises that have benefited. The company set up a 46,000-square-meter plant in Zhaoqing to produce special vehicles.
It has just developed an electric bulletproof securicar, which, compared with traditional gasolene-fueled ones, is lighter and more environmentally friendly.
“We chose to set up our factory here because the business environment is good and the local government offers us favorable policies in funding and hiring,” said Liu Guangrong, deputy general manager of the company.
The securicar has so far received 150 orders and is expected to achieve mass production in February 2019.
Liu said the plant is projected to produce 10,000 special vehicles annually and generate 800 million yuan in revenue by 2021.
In Zhongshan, 217 advanced equipment manufacturing projects with each entailing investment of 100 million yuan have been set up since 2014.
Xu Chengbin, director of the Zhongshan Economic and Information Technology Bureau, said development of the Greater Bay Area significantly improves connectivity between cities in the region.
The Shenzhen-Zhongshan Bridge, which is under construction, will bring Zhongshan much closer to Shenzhen.
So, it is the best time ever for the city to develop its advanced equipment manufacturing sector and to further improve the industrial chain, he said.
From 2015 to 2017, the Zhongshan government funded 1,500 advanced equipment manufacturing projects with 370 million yuan. It also got 1.5 billion yuan from Guangdong to fund the industry players over the period.
To encourage its manufacturers, the Zhongshan government will also provide subsidies of up to 30 percent of the total purchase value, if a company purchases a machine tool that is manufactured locally.
Qian Hua, vice-president of medical equipment manufacturer MinFound Medical Systems Co Ltd in Zhongshan, said the company was able to get funds from the local government. The policy for it to build the plant was also favorable, he said.
Apart from the services provided by the government, the company would also be rewarded if one of its projects becomes a national key project, he said.
For private enterprises, funding and talent have been two major challenges. Zhuhai is making great efforts in that direction to attract more investment.
“We provide a full range of services to advanced equipment manufacturing enterprises, especially in the areas that raise the most concerns, like recruiting talent and getting funding,” Yao Wei, deputy director of the Zhuhai Science and Technology and Industrialization Information Bureau, said.
She said the local government provides interest subsidies to enterprises of up to 40 million yuan per year, which means when a company applies for a bank loan, it can get a subsidy from the government to cover the interest part on that loan.
“We are doing so to help enterprises address their two major funding problems, which are the difficulties in obtaining a loan and the high cost of funding,” Yao said.
She said companies will be able to get such subsidies for three consecutive years, to the extent of 120 million yuan each.