Guangdong economy set to surpass Taiwan

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 November, 2007, 12:00am
 

Robust industrial activity is likely to push Guangdong's economic growth 18.6 per cent higher this year, propelling the size of its economy to surpass Taiwan for the first time, governor Huang Huahua says.

Mr Huang described the 14.4 per cent annual growth in Guangdong's economy in the past 15 years as an 'economic miracle' among Asia's so-called four little dragons - Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore.

The governor expected Guangdong's gross domestic product, a common measure for the size of an economy, to hit US$390 billion this year, ahead of Taiwan's 4 per cent growth to US$375 billion.

However, it remains to be seen if the province can keep up the growth rate as decades of industrialisation resulted in not only wealth but severe environmental degradation.

'Guangdong's future growth strategy will be development of innovation and technology,' Mr Huang said at the two-day International Consultative Conference on the Future Economic Development of Guangdong, a meeting held once every two years to solicit advice from 22 advisers from multinational firms and academia.

To help ease pollution, Guangdong is under a central government directive to move up the technological ladder and value chain and Mr Huang vowed to entice foreign investments in research and development.

Conceding the province's weakness in research and development, with only 261 centres in Guangdong out of some 100,000 factories, Mr Huang offered incentives to investors including increasing the protection of intellectual property rights, developing their own brand names, training of talent and cutting pollution.

Autodesk executive chairman Carol Bartz, one of the conference's advisers, pointed out that Guangdong could take the path of 'designed-in-China' through software development.

Another adviser, Peter Leupp, executive vice-president of European power equipment maker ABB, called on Guangdong to support small and medium-sized enterprises with financing and tax incentives.

'It is better to save energy than produce green energy,' Mr Leupp said. 'The greenest energy is energy saved.'

Other advisers such as senior officials of DuPont, Autodesk, Ericsson, AIG and Honda, urged Mr Huang to develop renewable energy and press producers to cut emissions.

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