Guangdong planning to look inward for growth

Updated: 2012-03-07 07:52

By Qiu Quanlin (China Daily)

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 Guangdong planning to look inward for growth

A textile factory in Dongguan, Guangdong province. Guangdong accounted for 25.1 percent of China's foreign trade last year, sources with the provincial government say. [For China Daily]

Guangdong province, China's largest contributor to foreign trade, won't rely heavily on the overseas market for growth this year, a top local government official said.

"The ultimate goal for us to upgrade the traditional manufacturing industries is to boost domestic demand," Zhu Xiaodan, the newly-elected governor of Guangdong, told reporters at a panel discussion of the National People's Congress on Tuesday.

Guangdong, which accounted for 25.1 percent of the country's foreign trade last year, has set a goal of a 7.5-percent increase in foreign trade this year, sources with the provincial government said.

"Given the current global economic situation, we should try to balance external and domestic demand," Zhu said.

To this end, Guangdong will diversify its overseas markets in the years ahead, with priority being given to new markets including Russia, Australia and some European countries that have had a limited trading relationship with the province.

"If we keep focusing only on the traditional markets like the United States, Europe and Japan, we will find no (method) for trade growth this year," Zhu said.

Authorities in Guangdong will organize delegations of officials and entrepreneurs to emerging markets this year to find potential opportunities, according to Zhu.

Also, provincial authorities will emphasize exports of more high-technology products with high added value.

"We will also focus more on exporting our own innovative products," Zhu said.

The total trade of the province grew 16.4 percent to $913.5 billion in 2011, said sources with the Guangdong provincial customs authorities That figure was 6.1 percentage points lower than the country's rate of increase last year.

Guangdong has become an economic powerhouse in South China for its role in contributing about one-fourth of the nation's foreign trade during the past three decades.

However, the provincial government has called on local companies to proactively upgrade their businesses, with the 2008 global financial crisis having hit the export-oriented manufacturing sector hard.

The planned shift in the province's mode of trade was in line with the central government's plan to expand the domestic market and open up new markets this year.

"While expanding domestic demand is crucial, we can never overlook the importance of external demand in China's economic development," Premier Wen Jiabao said in his government report on Monday.

Wen stressed that the government will implement the strategy of boosting trade through upgrading technology, improving quality and diversifying overseas markets.

"We will consolidate traditional markets in the US, Japan, and Europe and open up emerging markets," he said.

Dong Mingzhu, president of Gree Electric Appliances Inc and a NPC deputy, said the province's policy of transforming its mode of foreign trade will help local businesses better achieve industrial upgrading.

"In the industrial upgrading process, companies, especially in the manufacturing sector, should attach more importance to improving their technology and innovation and diversifying their markets," she said.