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Chongqing Seizes the Opportunity Brought by the “Belt and Road” Initiative to Further Facilitate the Construction of an Inland Opening-Up Highland

    Yan Nan, Chief Commissioner of Chongqing Customs
  Xu Qiang, Director of Chongqing Foreign Trade & Economic Relations Commission
  Tian Fenglun, Former Director General and Researcher of Institute of Economics, Chongqing Academy of Social Sciences
  The “Belt and Road” Initiative offers a larger platform for Chongqing to “go global”, drives the development of Yangtze River Economic Belt and helps Chongqing to better integrate into the central and western regions of China. Chongqing is of huge development potential and boasts a bright prospect. It should improve different open platforms and build itself into an inland international logistics hub, a pivot port as well as an inland opening-up highland.
  How should Chongqing further facilitate the construction of an inland opening-up highland? Here are some opinions from our guests:
  Q: In recent years, what has Chongqing done to explore the construction of an inland opening-up highland? And what achievements has it accomplished?
  Yan Nan: In recent years, Chongqing has seized the historical opportunity brought by the opening up of inland cities, the " Belt and Road" Initiative and the Yangtze River Economic Belt development strategy to facilitate the construction of an inland opening-up highland. It has accomplished remarkable achievements in the development of open economy with numerous highlights, and has made constant improvements as a port. With the opening up of airways, waterways and railways as well as the establishment of a series of functional open platforms, including bonded port area, comprehensive bonded zone and bonded logistics center, a “Three Three-in-Ones” pattern of opening up was formed in Chongqing. An extensive trade network came into being: At present, Chongqing is open to the west and is connected with countries in central Asia and central and eastern Europe via Chongqing-Xinjiang-Europe International Railway Transport Channel. It is open to the south via BCIM International Logistics Channel and it can have access to the Pacific Ocean through the golden waterway of the Yangtze River Economic Belt. Chongqing has played an important role in the national strategy of opening-up eastward, westward and southward. An industrial cluster gradually took shape: By virtue of Lianglu-Cuntan Free Trade Port Area and Xiyong Comprehensive Bonded Zone, Chongqing took the initiative to undertake the gradient transfer of processing trade which is dominated by the IT industry. A “5+6+800” electronic information industrial cluster took its shape and exerted tremendous scale effect on the growth of foreign trade. New service trade patterns emerged: Driven by the“Five Special Projects” of service trade, Chongqing adjusted the structure of foreign trade, transferred the development power and therefore facilitated the emergence of a batch of new service trade patterns, such as cross-border e-commerce, bonded exhibition and trade as well as offshore settlement.
  Xu Qiang: In recent years, led by the municipal party committee and the municipal people's government, Chongqing has been constantly deepening the eastward, westward, internal and external opening-up, and accelerating the construction of new open economic system. The feature of an inland opening-up highland has taken its initial shape. In recent years, Chongqing’s foreign investment in actual use has been maintained at over USD 10 billion. A total of 262 Fortune 500 companies have settled here. Chongqing’s import and export trade has increased by five times, its service trade has increased by nearly four times and its actual investment in foreign countries has increased by 2.4 times. Those achievements were accomplished because Chongqing actively integrated into the “Belt Road” Initiative and the Yangtze River Economic Belt development strategy, and facilitated the construction of large platforms, broad channels, efficient custom clearance, major industries and the overall environment for inland opening-up. With regard to large platforms, Chongqing formed a “Three Three-in-Ones” system which includes three traffic hubs covering airways, railways and waterways, three national open ports and three bonded areas. With regard to broad channels, Chongqing-Xinjiang-Europe International Railway Transport Channel became a major trade channel between China and Europe while the passenger throughput of Jiangbei International Airport exceeded 30 million. With regard to efficient custom clearance, Chongqing actively participated in the integration of customs and inspection and quarantine bureaus nationwide to increase efficiency and convenience. With regard to major industries, Chongqing created a new processing trade mode by “putting multiple ends on the domestic market and one end on the international market”. The production value of laptop and automobile industrial clusters both reached one trillion yuan. With regard to the overall environment, Chongqing provided more convenience for foreign investors by system innovation. The influence of economic and trade exchange platform like CCIFS and Chongqing Mayor’s International Economic Advisory Council was expended continuously.
  Q: On which aspects should Chongqing focus on to improve its open platforms and enhance its status as a leader of inland open economy?
  Xu Qiang: The “13th Five-Year Plan” period is a decisive stage for China to comprehensively build a moderately prosperous society. It is also a critical period for Chongqing to achieve an open economy and maintain the status as a leader of inland open economy.
We strive to fully exercise “Four Comprehensives” strategies and five development concepts, deeply implement the development strategies for five functional regions, actively integrate with national opening-up strategies, make the best of the connecting functions of the “One Belt, One Road” initiative and the Yangtze River Economic Belt, give full play to the supporting functions of the Western Development program, further deepen all-directional opening-up, make full use of domestic and international resources and markets, and keep expanding the scale of opening-up.
From the viewpoint of improving open platforms, to make them special, we need to carry out China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity with ambitious aims and in a high-level, innovative way, and endeavor to set up China (Chongqing) Pilot Free Trade Zone to achieve an all-around free trade development. To expand the breadth, we need to make open platforms available across the whole city. To expand the depth, we need to expand general trade and processing trade to carrying trade and headquarters trade, strive to develop service trade, speed up the construction of cross-border e-commerce pilot zone, and actively make experiments on the innovative development of service trade.
  Yan Nan: With an aim to help Chongqing accelerate the construction of “One Hub, Two Highlands”, the customs recently submitted to the municipal government Chongqing Customs’s 15 Focuses in 2016 for Opening-up and Development, on the basis of investigation and research. Through thorough analysis, Chongqing Customs has decided to play a supportive role by improving customs clearance and supervision services, perfecting open platform carriers, promoting the development of new business patterns, creating favorable business atmosphere, and helping enterprises alleviate burdens and increase efficiency.
  Tian Fenglun: On the basis of the national strategies of “Belt and Road” Initiative and Yangtze River Economic Belt, we should further improve open platforms and strive to make Chongqing an international logistics hub and an influential port. Firstly, we should make overall plans to boost infrastructure construction, such as railways, roads, airplanes and ships, lay emphasis on multimode domestic and international connection, make strategic layout of logistics platforms like key logistics parks and specialized markets, and bring into full play the strategic functions of these platforms and carriers. Secondly, we should upgrade our ports, strive to make Guoyuan-Donggang a national first-class port, and extend bonded port functions and vehicle importing to Guoyuan-Donggang to build an “Internet + port” economy. Thirdly, we should explore investment and financing channels participated in by the government and markets, seek methods to integrate logistics resources, achieve networked, industrialized, collectivized and internationalized management of logistics resources, and make great efforts to make logistics enterprises become the main market player of Chongqing.
  Q: Considering current international and domestic situations, to which should Chongqing give priority for deepening inland opening-up in the future?
  Xu Qiang: 2016 is the first year of the “13th Five-Year Plan” period. We will make a positive exploration into the supply-side structural reforms in the field of open economy, keep improving the functional systems of great channels for inland opening-up, great platforms and great customs clearance, accelerate the restructuring and upgrading of foreign trade, improve the quality and level of foreign capital utilization, encourage and support enterprises to “go global” and take part in international cooperation on industrial capacity, complete policy systems for open economy, and ensure a good start of the “13th Five-Year Plan”. To be specific, we will concentrate on the following ten tasks: 1) facilitate China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity and strive for substantial achievements; 2) accelerate the construction of Chongqing Cross-border E-commerce Pilot Zone and create more replicable and transferable experience; 3) promote the steady growth and transformation & upgrading of export and import trade, and strive to develop headquarters trade and transit trade; 4) advance the synergetic development of “bringing in” and “going out,” and ensure the balance between investment attraction and outward investment; 5) explore to establish service trade of inland features, and achieve the leapfrog development of service trade; 6) improve “3+N” working mechanism, and deepen the construction of platform carriers for open economy; 7) integrate and optimize policy systems, and make planned use of financial funds in an innovative way; 8) innovate work patterns, and do a good job in key fields such as aircraft financial lease, vehicle import, and bonded products display and transaction; 9) guarantee resource factors of open economy such as industries and talents; and 10) compile the 13th Five-Year Plan to make Chongqing an inland opening-up highland.
  Yan Nan: As an old inland industrial base, Chongqing is relatively inferior to coastal regions, as for conditions and foundations of export-oriented economy. The industrial structure of foreign trade is relatively simple, and development modes are relatively extensive. Under the new normal, we feel stressed to stabilize foreign trade growth, and we still have a long way ahead to achieve the open development of Chongqing. To this end, we should further deepen the integration of own foreign trade with national strategies, and continue to consolidate and expand own development modes and approaches while preparing development solid foundation to accelerate the formation of new advantages. Firstly, we should establish a system of open functions. We need to accelerate the construction of great channels, great customs clearance and great platforms, build multi-modal logistics systems in line with the actual needs of modern logistics, improve the intelligent level of port operations, enhance Chongqing’s capacity of international transportation; perfect the opening-up platform relied on special areas and bonded logistics centers, bring into full play the advantages of “three three-in-ones”; actively expand international trade transportation, and promote Chongqing’s role in foreign trade gathering and allocation. Secondly, we should maintain the status of processing and manufacturing industry. At present, the processing and manufacturing industry is still an important part of China’s foreign trade and export-oriented economy, which is of significance to promote the stable growth of Chongqing’s foreign trade. On the basis of consolidating the electronic processing and manufacturing industry, we should accelerate structural adjustments, take the initiative to take in the transfer of traditional industries from the coastal regions, and strive to bring forth new cluster effects and extend to high-end industrial chains. Meanwhile, we should encourage qualified districts (counties) to engage in processing trade, so as to promote the overall opening-up of Chongqing. Thirdly, we should foster new business patterns of service trade. We should take the opportunity of China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity to propel the development of modern service industries such as cross-border e-commerce, bonded products display and transaction, aviation, logistics and information, and activate headquarters trade and transit trade. We also need to guide enterprises to make full use of diversified trade policies, in order to facilitate the integration of domestic and foreign trade and promote the coordinated development of “bonded +” mode.

   

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