REPRESENTATIVES of the Chinese Manufacturers' Association say Hong Kong investors should explore central China and its northwest region for new opportunities. Heavy and primary industries were considered prime targets for local investors. The association said the area's rich reserves of natural resources provided ample investment opportunities for mining and machinery as well as for agriculture and other primary industries. Association chairman Herbert Liang said deep inland China was the 'area to pay more attention to'. 'Right now, the opportunities there are great,' he said. Mr Liang said there was an availability of sound human resources for research and development as most of China's high-technology research institutes were in that part of the country. He believed cheap labour and low land prices would help the region to gain an edge in building more capital-intensive industries. The association has predicted that joint ventures with state-owned heavy industries in the area had bright prospects this year. Mr Liang believed that better deals could be settled while China's austerity measures were in full swing. 'Austerity measures in China have squeezed budgets in many state-owned enterprises,' he said. 'A lot of them are short of funds at the moment. 'Investors will be able to obtain better terms and conditions for investing in heavy state-owned industries in central and northwest China now because they need Hong Kong capital. 'Investors may hesitate to pour money into existing state-owned enterprises but many of them in the region have a long history and steady market outlets.' He was confident that development projects in the interior of the country would be supported by the Chinese Government because they coincided with official attempt to narrow the economic gap between the wealthy coastal areas and interior provinces. The association intends to send a trade delegation to Gansu province later this year.