High-level opening-up drives Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei development
Published: Jan 21, 2019 06:57 PM

Signs of international financial institutions stand in Beijing Financial Street. Photo: VCG

Beijing will attract international financial and services sector institutions to set up their regional headquarters or branches, the city mayor Chen Jining said at the ongoing annual session of the municipal legislature.

"High-level opening-up" is a key phrase in the latest annual government work reports of Beijing, its neighboring port city of Tianjin, and Hebei Province - a regional city cluster being promoted by China.

The country initiated a strategy to coordinate the development of these three places five years ago, through exploring a new growth model for the densely-populated areas, featuring a better economic structure, a cleaner environment and improved public services.

In recent years, a growing number of foreign-funded firms have established themselves in the nation's capital.

In 2017, China's first foreign-controlled joint venture for aircraft maintenance was founded in Beijing's Shunyi district. Last year, the world's three major international credit rating agencies - Fitch Ratings, S&P Global and Moody's - registered wholly-owned subsidiaries in the capital.

The number of foreign-funded companies in the CBD, Chaoyang district, exceeded 10,000 last year. That is nearly one-third of the capital's total of foreign firms, the CBD administrative committee said. Foreign-funded companies have become a major driver of economic development in the area.

Sun Yao, deputy director with the Beijing Municipal Commerce Bureau, said the industrial structure for foreign investment had been optimized since the central government allowed Beijing to pilot policies, further opening the services industry in 2015.

In areas of finance, science and technology, and culture, Beijing relaxed the market entry rules for foreign capital. "The services industry has become more open, attractive and competitive," he said.

Efficient service

The actual use of foreign capital in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region accounted for 3.3 percent of the area's total GDP in 2010. In 2017, the figure rose to 4.8 percent, according the National Bureau of Statistics.

Experts attributed the progress to better government services and a series of integrated policies.

Thanks to the tailored policies of the Tianjin entry-exit inspection and quarantine bureau, the Tianjin plant owned by Denmark-based Novozymes, the world's largest producer of industrial enzymes, has seen improved logistics efficiency and less costs.

Shi Jia, the marketing communications manager of Novozymes (China) Investment Co. Ltd., said all imported goods can now be delivered directly to the plant's warehouse, and quarantine work can then be carried out at the company.

In 2014, an integrated customs clearance reform was launched in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei, which began to share information systems for customs declaration, risk controls, data checks and site work. Around 8,600 firms in Beijing benefited from the program by the end of 2018, according to Beijing customs.

The increasingly efficient customs clearance supervision and service have bolstered export growth. In the first three quarters of 2018, the total import and export of goods in Beijing surpassed two trillion yuan ($295 billion), up more than 25 percent year-on-year.

On Thursday, Beijing issued a series of policies and measures to streamline administration and optimize the business environment, involving business registrations, tax payments, cross-border trade and access to the power grid.

Wang Hongcun, deputy inspector of the Beijing Municipal Commerce Bureau, said the capital will set up 10 new demonstration shops in 2019 to boost cross-border e-commerce.

More reforms serve high-level opening-up

Beijing mayor Chen Jining said the city would exert greater efforts for reforming investment, customs management, trade facilitation, cross-border service trade, financial services, e-commerce and intellectual property protection in the future.

Hebei will accelerate the opening-up of agriculture, mining, manufacturing, education, medical services and cultural industries, according to the provincial governor Xu Qin when delivering a government work report.

The province will put more efforts into 10 Sino-foreign cooperation industrial parks this year, and seek approval for a Hebei pilot free trade zone.

To advance high-level opening-up, Tianjin mayor Zhang Guoqing said in this year's municipal government work report, that the city would continue to deepen reform of its Free Trade Zone and build a more open and transparent market access model.

Beijing Daxing International Airport, which is scheduled to open in September, sits at the junction of Beijing's Daxing district and Langfang, a city in Hebei. The new airport is expected to handle 45 million passengers annually by 2021 and 72 million by 2025.

Hendrick Sin, a Tianjin political advisor and president of the Hong Kong Internet Professionals Association, said Beijing had the country's leading research and talent resources.

"The coordinated development of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei will make the region into a cluster of high-tech enterprises and an innovation hub for China," he said.