'Laggard' Fujian signs US$8.66b worth of deals in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 March, 2011, 12:00am

Fujian signed US$8.66 billion worth of deals in Hong Kong yesterday as the coastal province seeks to boost its finance and tourism sectors.

At a signing ceremony for a total of 59 projects, Fujian party secretary Sun Chunlan said the delegation had focused on modernising the province's service sector. She said she wanted to see more Hong Kong financial institutions setting up branches in Fujian and supporting Fujian companies listing in the city.

About 70 Fujian companies have listed in Hong Kong, raising over HK$40 billion.

Fujian has been outshone by its affluent neighbours, Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces, which have been at the vanguard of the mainland's economic growth over the past 30 years. 'Fujian has been a laggard in economic development compared with Shanghai or Guangdong because, in the past, the central government made relations with Taiwan a priority,' said Dr Zheng Youguo, a researcher at the Fujian Academy of Social Sciences. 'Now Fujian is in a critical period of economic development. Being less developed also means there are more potential opportunities.'

Dr Zheng said Beijing attached 'great importance' to the province, which connects two of the mainland's most important economic drivers, the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta.

While Fujian's per-capita gross domestic product reached US$5,000 last year, comfortably beating the US$4,000 mainland average, Zheng said it was still far behind the average, for eastern coastal areas, of US$8,000.

Sun said Fujian would gear up during the 12th five-year plan for 2011-2015, aiming to double its total GDP, which topped 1.4 trillion yuan (HK$1.66 trillion) last year.

Kerry Group will invest US$960 million to build four five-star hotels in the Fujian cities of Fuzhou, Xiamen, Quanzhou and Putian, plus a logistics base at Putian. Kerry Group is the controlling shareholder of the SCMP Group, which publishes the South China Morning Post.

Among the other deals signed, Fujian-based Industrial Bank and Hang Seng Bank have agreed to strengthen their co-operation in cross-border yuan settlement, import and export trade-financing and investment banking. NetDragon Websoft will pump US$500 million into the third phase of a park in Fuzhou, focusing on the animation and gaming sectors. Linca Group will invest US$270 million in a tourism project in Fuqing city, and TPV Technology will invest US$120 million to build the first phase of a project in Pingtan county, an island governed by the province.

Big spender

Hong Kong is Fujian's major source of external investment, accounting for an accumulated total of this much, in US dollars: $50b