Huizhou, the municipality that wraps itself around the GBA’s eastern end, is seeing a burst of private-sector growth that is showing up in its foreign trade data. In the first half, trade climbed 40.9% to RMB19.096 billion. That is still tiny compared to neighboring Shenzhen’s private-sector exports of more than RMB500 billion, but anyone who has visited Huizhou might be surprised to hear it is even that much. The municipality is what Shenzhen was 30 years ago: wide-open space and natural beauty.
Private-sector foreign trade accounts for just 13.8% of Huizhou’s total. But the line is pointing sharply upward: it rose by RMB4.096 billion in June alone. At this rate, private-sector trade will likely catch up to Shenzhen’s current levels within the next decade.
This should be hardly surprising, as much of the data reflects displacement from high-cost Shenzhen, rather than organic growth. Moreover, the city has a lower VAT rate. Certificates of origin from Huizhou helps. In the first half, Huizhou Customs issued 31,352 certificates of origin, involving a trade volume of US$922 million.Nevertheless, Huizhou has its own ambitions. The local government has released a series of measures to promote the development of private enterprises. These include the four staples of every GBA municipality: “optimizing services”, “reducing costs”, “providing financial support”, and – our favorite – “further quickening the project approval process”. They might sound like clichés, but it is Huizhou’s time to make use of them and show that the city means business.