Guangzhou is the capital city of Guangdong Province in China's developed southeast coastal area. Zhang Guangning, deputy to the 11th National People's Congress and Mayor of Guangzhou, told Beijing Review that the goal for Guangzhou's GDP growth in 2009 is 10 percent.
Beijing Review: How has Guangzhou been affected by the financial crisis? Will its economic growth decline?
BOOMING CITY: Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province, is grasping the opportunity to host the 2010 Asian Games to maintain economic growth amid the global financial storm (LIU CHUNFANG)
Zhang Guangning: Exports account for 43 percent of Guangzhou's total economic volume. The global financial crisis has put big pressure on Guangzhou's economic development. In 2008, the city's GDP totaled 821.6 billion yuan ($120.11 billion), up 12.3 percent. Per-capita GDP reached 81,233 yuan ($11,876), up 10 percent. In 2009, we will strive for the goal of 10-percent GDP growth and 8.5-percent per-capita GDP growth.
How will you realize this goal?
Sustaining economic growth is the top task of Guangzhou, and expanding domestic demand is the fundamental way to reach this goal. According to the Outline of the Plan for the Reform and Development of the Pearl River Delta and the arrangements of the Central Government and Guangdong Provincial Government, Guangzhou will grasp the opportunity of hosting the Asian Games to accelerate the formation of a new economic growth pattern driven by domestic demand. Meanwhile, we will try to maintain exports and foreign investment for stable and fast economic development.
According to state policy, investment has become the major way of expanding domestic demand and stimulating the economy. What investment arrangements has Guangzhou made?
This year and next year Guangzhou will arrange 350 billion yuan ($51.17 billion) of investment in key construction projects, driving up fixed-asset investment by 500 billion yuan ($73.1 billion). Of the total, 82 projects will be arranged for this year with a total investment of 80.65 billion yuan ($11.79 billion). The investment will be put into the following four projects: First, construction projects related to the Asian Games, including stadiums and gyms, the Asian Games Village as well as support facilities; second, key infrastructure projects such as the airport, port, subway and expressways; third, major industrial projects related to modern industrial systems, such as logistics, trade, exhibitions, automobiles, electronics, petrochemicals, bio-pharmacy, new materials and new energies; fourth, projects related to people's livelihoods, including ecological environmental protection, roads, water conservancy facilities, commercial outlets in rural areas, modern agricultural demonstration areas and the protective development of forest parks. We should arouse the enthusiasm of various investors, drive up social investment with government investment and increase investment returns so as to both promote economic development and guarantee improvements to people's livelihoods.
We also will expand domestic demand by expanding consumption. In 2009, we will mainly nurture the consumer markets for automobiles and holiday entertainment, expand emerging consumption in areas such as e-commerce, Internet education, and entertainment and fitness, and promote the upgrade of consumption patterns.
How will Guangzhou ensure there will not be a sharp decrease in foreign trade in 2009?
Since the second half of 2008, we have seen drops in both foreign trade and foreign investment. This year we will strive for growth in these two aspects. Therefore, we have adopted measures in the following areas: First, innovating the foreign trade development pattern and guiding companies in adjusting export targets and developing new markets; second, optimizing and adjusting export structures and increasing the added value of products; third, accelerating the establishment of an outsourcing demonstration city, taking in international outsourcing businesses, and promoting the upgrade of trade; fourth, making full use of policy advantages in special customs supervision areas, promoting the establishment of Baiyun Airport Comprehensive Bonded Area, and creating favorable conditions for the development of foreign trade companies; fifth, innovating foreign investment and ways of cooperating, strengthening trade relationships with major world economies, supporting companies to develop international markets, and expanding the resources of the overseas processing trade and joint development; sixth, strengthening efforts to invite investment, creating new ways to invite investment, introducing key projects, particularly modern service projects, and absorbing foreign investment mainly in advanced manufacturing industries and high and new technology industries.
How will the Guangzhou Municipal Government help companies overcome the difficulties?
It is the government's duty to help companies get out of the crisis. We will improve the service environment for economic development, pay close attention to changes in the economic operating environment and macro-control policies at home and abroad, have a timely grasp of information on the development of major regions, major industries and major companies, and make our economic regulations more scientific, predictable and efficient. All government departments in Guangzhou will carry out preferential policies formulated by the state, province and city to maintain economic growth and support the development of enterprises. The government will also provide various services to support companies in order to solve problems in production and major project construction. For example, we will clear up items of administrative charges related to companies and reduce the proportion of payments by companies for unemployment insurance, basic medical insurance for urban employees and industrial injury insurance so as to ease their burdens.