Plans will boost cen­tral re­gion, of­fi­cial says

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By WANG YANFEI wangyan­fei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The six prov­inces that form cen­tral China are ex­pected to catch up with the de­vel­oped neigh­bor­ing re­gions through sup­port­ive mea­sures to at­tract in­vest­ment and boost devel­op­ment of tra­di­tional in­dus­tries, an of­fi­cial in the na­tion’s top eco­nomic reg­u­la­tor said on Fri­day.

“The re­gion has po­ten­tial to catch up with neigh­bor­ing de­vel­oped re­gions, with de­tailed plans and key tasks set for the five-year pe­riod,” said He Lifeng, vice-min­is­ter of the Na­tional Devel­op­ment and Re­form Com­mis­sion, re­fer­ring to a guide­line for 2016 to 2020 that the State Coun­cil ap­proved this week.

The guide­line specif­i­cally tar­gets the cen­tral prov­inces of He­nan, Shanxi, Hubei, An­hui, Hu­nan and Jiangxi.

It aims to turn the cen­tral re­gion into the na­tion’s ma­jor man­u­fac­tur­ing base, a model for mod­ern agri­cul­ture and ur­ban­iza­tion, He said.

The cen­tral re­gion has wellestab­lished in­dus­tries such as min­ing, farm­ing and agricul- ture pro­cess­ing, and it will re­ceive more gov­ern­ment sup­port in in­dus­trial up­grad­ing, in spurring the devel­op­ment of tra­di­tional in­dus­tries and in build­ing trans­porta­tion in­fra­struc­ture, He said.

The cen­tral gov­ern­ment will help im­prove the re­gion’s level of open­ing-up, at­tract more in­vest­ment and pro­vide more mar­ket ac­cess for for- eign in­vest­ment, He said.

Ad­ja­cent to the rich and large coastal economies of Guang­dong and Shan­dong prov­inces, the cen­tral re­gion has de­vel­oped quickly, but un­evenly. It has lagged be­hind de­vel­oped coastal re­gions, which have long ben­e­fited from the cen­tral gov­ern­ment’ open­ing-up poli­cies.

Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Bureau of Sta­tis­tics, eco­nomic growth in five of the six prov­inces was higher in the first three quar­ters than the 6.7 per­cent na­tional level, but the na­tion’s coal base, Shanxi prov­ince, only a 4 per­cent growth rate.

Liu Shengjun, an econ­o­mist at Lu­ji­azui In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Fi­nance, said that in­vig­o­rat­ing the cen­tral re­gion’s devel­op­ment is im­por­tant if the na­tion is to achieve more bal­anced growth with the econ­omy sta­bi­lized, amid the down­ward eco­nomic pres­sure it faces while set­tling into the devel­op­ment phase of the new nor­mal.

“In­creas­ing the pace of ur­ban­iza­tion would help the re­gion up­grade its eco­nomic struc­ture,” he said. “The re­gion has enough room to catch up.”

The ur­ban­iza­tion rate in the six prov­inces was 51.2 per­cent in 2015, 5 per­cent­age points lower than the na­tional level, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Devel­op­ment and Re­form Com­mis­sion.

He added that im­prov­ing public fa­cil­i­ties, in­fra­struc­ture con­struc­tion wel­fare in the re­gion stim­u­late the pace of re­gional ur­ban­iza­tion.

Liu Shengjun, an econ­o­mist at Lu­ji­azui In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Fi­nance

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