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Greater Bay Area

China’s ‘Greater Bay Area’ economy could equal that of South Korea if trade freed up, report says

Removing tariffs and restrictions on the free movement of goods and recognising international standards could create conditions for strong growth, according to Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Hong Kong and CBRE

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 September, 2017, 6:23pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 October, 2017, 11:49am

China’s ambitious “Greater Bay Area” scheme to link cities in the south into an economic hub could become a region with an economy about the size of South Korea if it were made a free-trade zone, according to a report by Hong Kong’s surveyors’ industry group and property firm CBRE.

The plan, introduced by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in March, aims to integrate the economies of 11 southern cities – Hong Kong, Macau and the Guangdong province cities of Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Zhongshan, Dongguan, Huizhou, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing. Minimising obstacles would greatly increase its potential, the report said.

“The Greater Bay Area could become a top-10 megalopolis with a 9 trillion yuan (US$1.4 trillion) gross domestic product, [on a par with] Russia and South Korea, if Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau cooperate to reduce obstacles,” said Marcos Chan, head of research at CBRE, at a press conference to introduce the report.

“The 11 cities should allow goods already permitted in one city to flow into the others. They should exempt tariffs and standardise border checks and customs procedures,” Chan said.

Chan said other measures to help the region grow could include allowing foreign businessmen to travel in the 11 cities freely through a single travel permit, akin to the APEC Business Travel Card, which allows business travellers visa-free entry to most of the 21 participating economies that make up the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation grouping.

“Now foreigners need to apply for three separate permits to travel to Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong province. But if the process were integrated, travellers would have more incentive to stay longer and visit more places,” he said.

The report, which has been submitted to Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong and to the office of Hong Kong’s chief executive, also suggested such measures as a standardised electronic payment platform across the bay area region.

The area could also benefit from adopting a preferential tax system to draw talent, and from recognising international professional standards and qualifications, Clement Lau, chairman of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Hong Kong, told the press conference.