Ningbo has ambitious plans for economic growth. The second-largest city in Zhejiang province, after Hangzhou, aims to develop industries in new technology and work closely with Shanghai.
These strategic goals are expected to strengthen Ningbo's role as the major economic centre in the south of the Yangtze River Delta Economic Area, which accounts for 20 per cent of the mainland's gross domestic product and one-third of foreign trade. The plan to work closely with Shanghai was highlighted at the 2012 Shanghai-Ningbo Week in Shanghai earlier this month. 'We could continue to develop and get stronger by serving Shanghai's foreign trade, shipping and finance industries,' said Huang Hui, deputy secretary of Ningbo city, at the opening of the event, which aims to promote co-operation, exchange, development and other mutually beneficial initiatives between the cities.
The connection between Shanghai and Ningbo dates back to the Tang dynasty (618-907), when the cities were the country's major trading centres. As Shanghai developed, many merchants from Ningbo migrated to Shanghai seeking greater opportunities. This tradition has continued. Since the mainland opened up in the early 1980s, Shanghai has provided plenty of opportunities for businesses in Ningbo, especially those providing services for foreign trade, shipping and finance.
According to government estimates, since the 1980s, there have been more than 500 joint projects between the cities, involving investment of more than 50 billion yuan (HK$61.4 billion).
Links between Shanghai and Ningbo have been strengthened with the opening of the 36km Hangzhou Bay Bridge in 2008, the third-longest in the world, making it possible to travel by car between the cities in two hours.
In addition to traditional industries, such as foreign trade, travel, textiles and garment, Ningbo aims to become a key provider of advanced technologies in the region by taking advantage of the progress made by the city's companies and institutions. Last year, the city granted 37,342 patents, the second highest after Shenzhen among the 15 sub-provincial cities.
While most technology products developed in Ningbo are used locally, there has been an increase in exports. The city last year exported 1,198 technological contracts exceeding 1.09 billion yuan. These covered technology development, transfer, and services for industries, such as electronics and information, advanced manufacturing, city construction and development, new materials and applications.
Area 9,816 square kilometres
Population 7.6 million (2010)
GDP 601.048 billion yuan (2011)
Industrial added value
300.48 billion yuan (2011)
Retail sales of social consumable products 201.89 billion yuan (2011)
Consumable expenditure of urban citizens 21,779 yuan (2011)
Disposal income of urban residents 34,058 yuan (2011)
Foreign trade US$98.19 billion (2011)
Exports US$60.83 billion
Imports US$37.36 billion.