Special zone seeks more Hong Kong investors

Hengqin Island looks for extra funds after pulling 226 billion yuan in investment

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 June, 2013, 3:49am

Zhuhai's special economic zone, Hengqin, which has already attracted 226 billion yuan (HK$286 billion) of investment in its first three years, is looking for more Hong Kong investors.

Hengqin, an island within a few minutes by ferry from Macau, is one of about a dozen special economic zones on the mainland that offer tax and other regulatory incentives to lure investment from Hong Kong and overseas investors.

The profit tax rate for companies there is 15 per cent instead of the normal 25 per cent.

Since 2009, 2,911 companies had registered to set up business on the island, Liu Jia, the party secretary of Hengqin New Area, said yesterday in Hong Kong.

Liu was leading a delegation of government officials to promote the zone to enterprises and investors in the city.

A total of 44 billion yuan has been spent on infrastructure projects to provide electricity, water and sewerage to the newly developed area.

"We have 56 ongoing projects in Hengqin that involved a total investment of 226.3 billion yuan," Liu said.

She said a key construction project in the special zone, the 6 billion yuan University of Macau campus, had been completed. It would take in students this autumn.

Analysts said Hengqin's proximity to Macau meant its development would benefit that city more than Hong Kong.

Hong Kong, by contrast, has a closer link with Shenzhen's Qianhai zone, as many banks and brokers have wanted to set up shop there after the central government designated it a testing ground for yuan convertibility.

But Zhuhai city party chief Li Jia said the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, which is under construction and due to open in 2016, would make for closer links, as Hong Kong residents would be able to go to Zhuhai by car in 30 minutes instead of a few hours by ferry.

"Hengqin and other parts of Zhuhai would develop a lot of residential, leisure and tourism facilities, which would be an ideal place for Hong Kong people to live or to travel to," Li said.

Henqin, Qianhai and Nansha in Guangzhou are the three zones in Guangdong province written into the country's 12th five-year plan to 2015 as testing grounds for new free-trade-zone concepts.