Economy of Guangdong

15pc growth for Shenzhen tipped

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 December, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 15 December, 2006, 12:00am

Shenzhen can expect economic growth of 15 per cent this year, two percentage points higher than previous forecasts, after a strong performance in the second half, Mayor Xu Zongheng has said.

The mayor attributed the better-than-expected result to government efforts to promote hi-tech industries and a sustainable economy. Energy and resource efficiency had improved over the same period last year and was much better than the national average.

Shenzhen had used less land, water and energy to produce the same amount of wealth during the first 10 months of this year, Mr Xu told the Shenzhen People's Congress on Wednesday. Its coal consumption per unit of gross domestic product was just half of the national average and its water consumption per unit of GDP was 10 per cent of the national average.

Fixed-asset investment had increased by only 10.7 per cent in Shenzhen, much lower than the national average of 26.8 per cent in the first 10 months of the year, while domestic consumption had risen 15.9 per cent.

In July, Shenzhen reported year-on-year GDP growth of 13.5 per cent for the first half of the year. While that was 2.6 percentage points higher than the national average, it was lower than the 14.4 per cent growth rate recorded for Guangdong as a whole, causing some critics to ask whether the city's development had hit a bottleneck.

Many manufacturing businesses moved out of Shenzhen after the government announced a series of stringent environmental and labour regulations. It raised minimum wages by more than 17 per cent and closed or fined several highly polluting factories.

Denis Kwan, a Hong Kong business consultant working in Shenzhen, said the strong rebound in the latter half of the year justified the government's policies and showed that economic growth could be achieved without sacrificing the environment and workers' welfare.

'It is good news for Shenzhen. It shows the city can move up the economic ladder and is not over-dependent on cheap labour and cheap resources,' he said.

Shenzhen's strong growth was chiefly led by hi-tech industry, finance and export business. Hi-tech industry now accounted for 29 per cent of the city's total economy, Mr Xu said.

The government would focus on improving public health and food safety in the coming year.