Although on the Yangtze River system, Sichuan has benefited from co-operating with Guangdong and Hong Kong and has given its support to the Pan-Pearl River Delta grouping, according to provincial officials. 'We have regional co-operation with Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau, the Yangtze River Delta and the Bohai Bay region, but our best co-operation is with south China,' said Jia Jiang , the director of the Sichuan government's Guangzhou office. Sichuan was the leading player in a failed southwest China regional co-operation group and now has set its sights on the 'nine plus two' Pan-Pearl River Delta region. 'Our co-operation in the southwest began in the 1980s, but it has not been successful because there is no [complimentary relationship]. We still hold meetings every year, but it makes no difference whether we meet or not,' Mr Jia said. He said Sichuan had strong complementary ties with Guangdong and Hong Kong because of its low labour costs, rich resources and diversified industrial base. The province has a population of 86.7 million people and is an important agricultural base with rich resources for tourism. 'Our disadvantage is that we are landlocked and our financial and services sector is backward. Our products are also not up to international standards in terms of quality and design,' Mr Jia said. 'It turns out that Hong Kong's weaknesses are Sichuan's strengths and vice-versa.' Sixty per cent of investment in Sichuan comes from Guangdong and Hong Kong. Joint investment by Guangdong and Sichuan enterprises rose to 3.6 billion yuan in 2003 from 2.4 billion yuan in 2000. Although a third of its exports still travel down the Yangtze River to Shanghai, Sichuan moves more than US$540 million worth, or one-sixth, of its exports by rail to Guangdong ports, while US$370 million is exported to Hong Kong. This southward flow of goods is expected to increase. A highway linking Sichuan with Zhanjiang will be completed next year, also providing an opportunity for Zhanjiang's port to grow. The province hopes co-operation will give impetus to the logistics industry and break down tax barriers that grossly inflate the price of Sichuan produce.