Pursuing high-quality development led by high-level opening, Guangxi vigorously improves its position as an important portal for the organic connection to the “Belt and Road,” effectively helping to build a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future and adopting a new pattern of opening-based development.

Guangxi Baise Longbang Border Trade Area in China-Vietnam border.
Guangxi Baise Longbang Border Trade Area in China-Vietnam border.

Fully promoting the construction of a high-level opening platform carrier

On November 26, 2023, along with the roaring whistle in Beibu Gulf, a whole cold chain train carrying seafood, meat, fruits, and other frozen fresh products from ASEAN countries departed from Beibu Gulf Port and headed for Chongqing, a highland of opening in China. This is another measure by Guangxi to accelerate the smooth trade of characteristic products between ASEAN countries and western provinces and regions in China.

Guangxi is the only province in western China with ports and is also the only province in China adjacent to ASEAN by land and sea. Leveraging its location and resource advantages to speed up economic development, Guangxi implements the three-year improvement action plan for building the new western land-sea corridor. Beibu Gulf Port ranks among the “Top Ten” major coastal ports in China in both container throughput and cargo throughput.

As of November 19, 2023, there were 3,021 trains in the Guangxi zone of the new western land-sea corridor, exceeding 3,000 trains for the first time, with a year-on-year growth rate of 13%. The trains increased at a high speed, accounting for 151% of the 2,000 trains planned at the beginning of 2023 and 36% of trains in the entire corridor. Therefore, Guangxi becomes the power support for the stable growth of trains in the new western land-sea corridor.

“Compared with traditional river-sea intermodal transportation, the new western land-sea corridor can save about 10 to 20 days in logistics and create new market space for the group abroad,” said Zhang Xingyan, the general manager of the overseas division of the SERES Group. Taking exports to Indonesia as an example, river-sea intermodal transportation takes 30 days, while the new western land-sea corridor only takes about 18 days, significantly reducing delivery time and operating costs.”

As of June this year, SERES Group had transported more than 10,000 TEUs, amounting to RMB 2 billion worth of whole vehicles and components in the new western land-sea corridor. With support from the new western land-sea corridor, SERES Group invested USD 150 million in Indonesia to build an intelligent automobile manufacturing base, which was formally put into production and achieved batch sales.

Additionally, the China (Guangxi) Pilot Free Trade Zone is experiencing prosperous development. At present, it has completed 120 national reform pilot tasks and formed 134 achievements of institutional innovation at the autonomous region level in four batches for promotion throughout the entire region, with 48 achievements pioneering nationwide. The “Reform and Innovation of Cross-border RMB Application in Border Areas” has been included in the “Best Practice Cases” of national pilot free trade zones in the fourth batch. Guangxi is also driving the linkage development between China (Guangxi) Pilot Free Trade Zone and Guangdong, Hainan, Yunnan, and Heilongjiang Pilot Free Trade Zones (Ports). As of July 2023, China (Guangxi) Pilot Free Trade Zone has reached a cumulative foreign trade import and export volume of RMB 858 billion and cumulatively used foreign capital of USD 1.476 billion.

Furthermore, Guangxi is accelerating the construction of a high-level open park system to comprehensively connect with the construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt. Guangxi is also speeding up the construction of various platforms, such as Guangxi Hezhou East Integration Pilot Demonstration Zone, Wuzhou East Integration Hub Portal City, Yulin “Two-area” (Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and Beibu Gulf Economic Area) Industrial Integration Pilot Experimental Zone, Zuojiang and Youjiang Former Revolutionary Base Revitalization, and Guangdong-Guangxi Cooperation Special Experimental Zone. The characteristic industrial cluster and advantageous industry chain have initially formed. Additionally, Guangxi is accelerating the construction and development of major opening platforms, such as Fangchenggang International Medical Opening Experimental Zone, Financial Opening Portal for ASEAN, Science and Technology Innovation Cooperation Zone for ASEAN, World-class Tourist City Guilin, key development and opening pilot zones along the border, and Nanning Airport Economic Demonstration Zone.

A full rail-sea intermodal train of new western land-sea corridor departure from Qinzhou Port East Station. (Photo: Chen Lei)

Continuously promoting the deepening and strengthening of China-ASEAN opening cooperation

Guangxi is at the forefront and is a window of China-ASEAN opening cooperation. To effectively grasp and utilize the new opportunities of China-ASEAN Free Trade Area 3.0 and RCEP, in recent years, Guangxi has actively promoted the transformation of location advantages into opening-based development advantages and continuously driven the deepening and strengthening of China-ASEAN opening cooperation.

Since the permanent settlement of the China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning in 2004, Guangxi has become one of the important intersections of regional cooperation. Over the past 20 years, political leaders and businessmen from China and ASEAN countries have gathered in Nanning every year, promoting a large number of China-ASEAN cooperation mechanisms to settle in Guangxi, forming the “Nanning Channel” for China-ASEAN cooperation and creating new international cooperation models such as the China-Malaysia “Two Countries, Two Parks.” A new international land-sea trade corridor leading to ASEAN has been promoted under the frame of the “Belt and Road.”

Guangxi has established a joint meeting system for the high-quality implementation of RCEP by releasing Several Measures of Guangxi for New RCEP Economic and Trade Rules and the Action Plan of Guangxi for the Implementation of RCEP with High Quality (2022-2025). In the implementation of RCEP with high quality, Guangxi has gathered consensuses and provided Guangxi solutions.

Guangxi has established park platform cooperation with 8 ASEAN countries, including Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand. The China-Malaysia “Two Countries, Two Parks” pioneers the mutual establishment of an industrial park in China and ASEAN countries and becomes the “China-Malaysia Investment Cooperation Flagship Project” and “China-ASEAN Cooperation Demonstration Zone.” Based on many cooperation mechanisms, such as the China-Malaysia “Two Countries, Two Parks,” the China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park establishes China’s first China-ASEAN bird’s nest cross-border industry chain. In the Guangxi-Brunei economic corridor cooperation framework, the upstream and downstream green chemical fiber cross-border industry chains are initially formed, such as Hengyi-Brunei “a drop of oil” and Hengyi-Qinzhou “a strand of fiber.”

In addition, Guangxi has implemented many three-year action plans to improve the construction of border ports and has realized the full coverage of open ports in border counties. Guangxi has achieved a 100% main business application rate for the “single window” in international trade and continues to take actions to improve the clearance capability of border ports. Key ports such as Youyiguan and Dongxing achieve instant or second-day departure. In 2022, the overall clearance time for imports at Guangxi ports was 11.65 hours, 28.53 hours less than the national average, ranking 3rd in China.

A bustling wharf in Qinzhou Port full of freighters in loading and unloading. (Photo: Chen Lei)

In the future, Guangxi will further implement the opening-leading strategy, demonstrate new achievements in serving and integrating into the new development pattern, and focus on building an important hub for domestic and international dual circulation.

Specifically, from the perspective of building national opening platforms with high quality, Guangxi will jointly build the new western land-sea corridor at a high level, establish the China (Guangxi) Pilot Free Trade Zone with a high standard, deepen the construction of the Financial Opening Portal for ASEAN, accelerate the construction of the China-ASEAN Information Harbor, and build the China-ASEAN intermodal digital hub.

In the aspect of deepening domestic and international cooperation with a focus on ASEAN, Guangxi will actively integrate into the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) to build the “GBA-Beibu Gulf Economic Area-ASEAN” cross-area and cross-border industry chain and supply chain. Additionally, Guangxi will continuously deepen cooperation with RCEP members, further improve its cooperation level of the industry chain, and drive large domestic enterprises to accelerate the construction of RCEP cross-border industry chains for new energy vehicles, chemical new materials, bulk commodity trade, and processing, etc., by taking advantage of rules and policy dividends, such as RCEP tariff concessions, removal of non-tariff barriers, origin accumulation rules, customs procedures, and facilitation. Besides, Guangxi will drive the development of more international cooperation parks and create economic and trade cooperation innovation demonstration parks and demonstration cooperation industry projects.

Article by: LIN Hao