China's Fujian province says it will guarantee foreign investors a fixed return on toll road and port facilities, even though such promises are not officially backed by the central government. Fujian Provincial Department of Foreign Trade and Economic Corp chief officer Chen Zuwu yesterday said it would offer investors a fixed return on toll road and port projects under rules to be announced in the first quarter. Although he did not specify the guaranteed returns, he said investors would be comfortable with a return of at least 17 per cent. 'Returns guarantees are very useful in attracting foreign funds, ' Mr Chen said in Hong Kong. Although the Chinese Ministry of Communications last year said it would not guarantee foreign investors a fixed return on toll road projects, there are provincial and municipal authorities offering guarantees to lure foreign investment. The rules, to be announced soon, are part of Fujian's broader plan proposed for this year to channel foreign capital into priority industries, such as petrochemical, electronics and machinery, construction materials, forestry and marine sectors. Mr Chen said investment in the province's priority sectors also would be granted preferential policies. As part of the plan to improve its investment environment, Mr Chen said Fujian would move to simplify the approval procedures in projects involving foreign investment. To beef up the trade sector, Mr Chen said Fujian would set up two or three large foreign trade corporations in the first half of this year with an estimated total export value of hundreds of millions of US dollars each year. Restructuring of domestic companies involved in the foreign trade sector would be accelerated. There are more than 400 in the province. The move is to boost the already flourishing trade sector. Last year, Fujian's export value was worth US$16.7 billion, up 13.4 per cent from a year ago, and imports hit $10 billion, up 7.2 per cent year-on-year. Total used foreign investment of the province reached $4 billion, making up one-tenth of the country's total. Although Mr Chen said the Fujian provincial government strongly supported its window company in Hong Kong, Fujian Enterprises (Holdings) Co, no timetable had been set for the company's long-awaited flotation.