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Building on efforts to boost international trade

By Yuan Shenggao | (China Daily ) | 2019-11-28

Following the central government's proposal to establish a demonstration zone in Qingdao for economic collaboration with Shanghai Cooperation Organization members, the coastal city in East China's Shandong province has seen substantial progress.

During the SCO Summit in Qingdao in June 2018, Chinese authorities gave their support to the development of the China-Shanghai Cooperation Organization Demonstration Zone for Local Economic and Trade Cooperation in Qingdao.

The overall plan for the construction of the China-SCO demonstration zone was passed during the ninth meeting of the central committee for deepening overall reform on July 24.

The meeting set out the goals of setting up the demonstration zone. They included creating a better platform for international cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, and developing collaborations in logistics, trade, investment, tourism and culture.

It also expects to take advantage of Qingdao as the eastern starting point of the New Eurasian Land Bridge and as a hub city of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

Three months later, the zone secured 11 large projects with investments totaling 33 billion yuan ($4.7 billion) during an investment fair on Oct 23.

The projects, mainly funded by China's big State-owned enterprises, cover such areas as advanced manufacturing, new materials and microelectronics.

At the event, Wang Qingxian, Party secretary of Qingdao, called on enterprises from home and abroad to grasp the opportunity for business expansion.

"According to the requirements of the central authorities, the SCO demonstration zone is designed to serve Qingdao's new position as a pivot to connect the East and West through its land-sea transport systems," Wang said.

He added that the zone will be crucial to serving both the nation and Qingdao's strategies to deepen opening-up and international cooperation.

The Ministry of Commerce rolled out a general plan last month. It listed four major tasks to build the demonstration zone: forging a regional logistics center; building a modern trade center; promoting production capacity cooperation and constructing a center for two-way investment; and building a business, tourism and cultural exchange center.

The short-term goal is to build a seaport for the Asia-Pacific market and form a demonstration area for exchanges and cooperation with cities in SCO countries.

The medium-and long-term goal is to build a pilot area for two-way investment and trade system innovation with SCO countries, a gathering area for enterprises to start their businesses, and a pioneering area for local economic and trade cooperation under the BRI.

Located in the Jiaozhou Economic and Technological Development Zone in Qingdao, the demonstration area is close to the transport center of Qingdao, where cargo is unloaded from sea vessels and loaded onto trains bound for Central Asia and other BRI countries and regions.

Since June last year, the zone has welcomed visits by many potential partners.

"We have received a total of 67 trips made by guests from SCO members such as Russia and Tajikistan and a number of agreements have been reached," said Hao Guoxin, an official of the administration committee of the SCO demonstration zone.

While construction is underway, the zone has a number of essential facilities in place. They include a service center, an international incubation base for startups, a science and technology exchange center as well as office buildings and apartments for employees.

"The facilities can get new enterprises instantly ready for operation," Hao said.

Local statistics show that construction on 24 investment projects with funds totaling 18.3 billion yuan are underway. Another nine projects are scheduled to be launched in the near future.

The zone has been building connections with businesses in SCO member countries by holding trade and investment events and establishing liaison offices overseas, according to Hao.

One of the events was an SCO forum and international investment and trade expo in May. Deals for seven projects worth a total of 153 million yuan were signed, according to the official.

He added that the zone currently has representative offices in six cities in SCO countries.

Hao noted that the zone has a special court for solving disputes and ensuring the legal rights of international investors and staff members.

The SCO is an intergovernmental international organization established in 2001 by China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India and Pakistan joined as full members in 2017.

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Located at the eastern end of the New Eurasian Land Bridge, Qingdao plays an important role connecting East and West.Fa Lei/wang Xingran/for China Daily    

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The newly established China-Shanghai Cooperation Organization Demonstration Zone for Local Economic and Trade Cooperation is designed to serve the nation and Qingdao's strategies to expand opening-up and international cooperation.Provided To China Daily