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Nantong continues to optimize economic development zones

By YUAN SHENGAO China Daily Updated: 2021-03-09


Coastal city Nantong is one of six new entrants to the"1-trillion-yuan GDP club" in China in 2020. [Photo/CHINA DAILY]

Efforts from coastal city in East China's Jiangsu province have yielded outstanding results

Nantong, a coastal city in East China's Jiangsu province, has been optimizing the operation of its economic development zones to pursue quality development. The city's efforts have yielded outstanding results.

The city released a guideline in 2020 to strengthen the administration and development of its economic zones. According to the guidelines, economic zones in Nantong had been facing problems with size and efficiency. The guidelines were set to promote the integration of resources by separating government service functions from economic zones and stimulating the vitality of regional economic systems and mechanisms.

Continuous reforms

Directed by the guidelines, some provincial-level economic zones in Nantong merged neighboring, smaller industrial parks which were engaging in similar industries in 2020. The provincial-level zones were responsible for allocation of resources, investment promotion, management and construction after the mergers.

Meanwhile, every development zone has set up a core area of about 30 square kilometers to prioritize developments for the next five to 10 years.

Each development zone also managed to focus on one or two key industries while cultivating one or two emerging industries based on its resources and economic development foundation. For instance, the Nantong Economic & Technological Development Area saw the next generation of information technology and healthcare industries growing rapidly. Tongzhou Bay also reported strong growth in its port economy.

Measures have also been taken to create a better business environment for investors. More actions have been taken to streamline one-stop services and administration in economic zones to bring more benefits to enterprises. The Nantong city government delegated 916 administrative permits across nine economic zones last year. Among the zones to receive the permits, the Suzhou-Wuxi-Nantong Science and Technology Park was granted 578 permits to cover a wide range of industries by the end of 2020. New performance evaluation and award models were also implemented. Performance evaluations will be carried out in every economic zone on a quarterly, half-yearly and annual basis, according to local officials.

Excellent outcomes

After taking about one year of effort, economic zones in Nantong, especially some newly integrated ones, maintained growth in 2020 despite the COVID-19 outbreak.

Nantong International Home Textile Park, established by merging the China Dieshiqiao International Home Textiles and Tongzhou Zhihao Market, reported a combined trading value of 230.1 billion yuan ($35.59 billion) in 2020, up 4 percent from 2019. The park utilized online sales to bring in 85 billion yuan in revenue, up 19 percent on the previous year.

The new economic zone is showing strong vitality and prosperity in the Year of the Ox. Through Feb 28, the 15th day of the first month on Chinese lunar calendar, which marked the end of the Spring Festival celebrations, 80 percent of industrial enterprises above designated size-meaning they have an annual revenue of 20 million yuan or more, resumed production.

Su-Xi-Tong Science and Technology Park in Nantong was established in November through the combination of the Suzhou-Nantong and Wuxi-Nantong industrial parks. The new park is set to be a national-level demonstration zone that promotes cross-Yangtze River integrated development.

New projects have landed in the zone during the last few months. One such example involves Xinlin International Group, a supplier for leading companies such as Uniqlo and Aeon, which signed up to develop a medical material production project on Dec 12. The annual sales revenue of the new project is estimated to reach 1 billion yuan. The integrated economic zone also signed investment agreements with German Karcher and Gaoda High-Tech to build a development site for automated vehicle-cleaning robots.

On Jan 15, 31 new projects covering smart manufacturing, electronic information, life and health, and modern service industries began construction in the Su-Xi-Tong Science and Technology Park with total investment of 26.8 billion yuan. By the end of the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25), regional GDP of the park was set to reach 30 billion yuan, according to Wang Kai, Party secretary of the park.

By the end of February, Nantong boasted 17 economic zones at the provincial level or above, including four national-level economic and technological development areas, and one national-level high-tech area.

Bright future

In 2021, Nantong will further upgrade its economic zones in hopes of continuing to move forward with development.

"We will accelerate introducing new policies, strengthen technology innovation and foster more industrial clusters to boost economic and social development," said an official from Nantong's commerce bureau.

Officials from the commerce bureau said the city will promote further opening-up of development zones, technological and production upgrades in traditional industries and support enterprises to expand industrial chains. More measures will be taken to attract world-leading companies to economic zones in Nantong as officials aim to form globally competitive industrial clusters. Nantong will support the development of industrial parks, which were jointly developed by both Chinese and foreign investors. It will also strengthen business ties with neighboring Shanghai.

Nantong, a prosperous economic hub in East China and a gateway to Shanghai, made great strides in its economic output during the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-20). It was one of six new entrants to the "1-trillion-yuan GDP club" in China in 2020. The 1-trillion-yuan benchmark is often perceived as a notion of economic prowess. Shanghai was the first city in the country to hit the mark, back in 2006.

During the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25), Nantong will work to boost innovation and entrepreneurship and become a hub of advanced manufacturing in the Yangtze River Delta region, with a comprehensive transportation network.

The city will move toward high-quality economic growth by building world-class advanced manufacturing industrial clusters, optimizing the local industrial structure, deepening reforms and opening-up, promoting technology innovation, attracting more professionals, facilitating regional cooperation, and improving the business environment.

Nantong will also work toward environmentally friendly development by optimizing the use of natural resources, emphasizing environmental protection, strengthening environmental management, and promoting an environmentally friendly lifestyle.