Jiangsu government has allowed foreign investors to take the full operational rights of toll-road projects, to encourage foreign investors to fund its infrastructure development. The province has shortlisted 26 projects, excluding the Number Two Yangtze River Bridge in Nanjing, available for foreign investors. They will cost US$9.44 billion. Vice-general secretary Chen Deming said the provincial government welcomed foreign parties to acquire the whole operational rights in toll-road projects for a certain period of time. At present, foreign investors are not encouraged to take the full right of infrastructure projects, except in the form of build-operate-transfer. Mr Chen said many Hong Kong-listed companies, including Cheung Kong Holdings and Sun Hung Kai Property, had expressed interest. Investment in some of the projects would cost more than $100 million, and discussion on co-operation had been held. Zhou Zhongtong, director of Jiangsu's Office of Opening to the Outside World, said foreign parties were particularly interested in highway, bridge and power plant projects. Jiangsu officials were in Hong Kong yesterday to promote the Jiangsu Province Foreign Economic and Trade Fair, to be held in the SAR from November 3 to 8. Wang Wenqing, vice-governor of Jiangsu's Planning and Economic Commission, said construction of the Number Two Yangtze River Bridge, which was approved by the State Council, would start by the end of the year. He said foreign investors had expressed interest in participating in the project. Jiangsu, one of the fastest growing mainland provinces, saw its gross domestic output grow 12.2 per cent to 605.7 billion yuan (about HK$562 billion) last year. Mr Wang expected a similar growth this year and the GDP might hit 690 billion yuan. Last month, the State Council approved a merger of four petrochemical plants in Jiangsu - Yizheng Chemical Fibre, Yangzi Petrochemical, Jinling Petrochemical and Nanjing Chemical Industrial Group. Mr Chen said the merger would reduce duplications in investment and avoid cut-throat competition. Asset valuation work would take about one year. Mr Wang said 26 per cent of Jiangsu's state enterprises lost money in the first six months of this year, one percentage point lower than in the same period last year. Total losses exceeded one billion yuan, slightly lower than last year's figures.