(ATF) The eastern city of Kaifeng is looking to emerge as a logistics and transportation hub in Central China and a major connection point for domestic and foreign trade, according to a local official.
As one of the three sections of the China (Henan) Pilot Free Trade Zone (FTZ), Kaifeng is building a special international railway line that links it to the hinterland and coastal ports. The line will help enterprises lower their transportation costs and boost the growth of the international logistics industry in Henan province, said Gao Jianjun, mayor of Kaifeng .
Last year, Henan Bian'Ou Import and Export Trade Co started the first special rail service, carrying goods imported into nearby ports. The rail service has been run more than 15,000 times.
"Next, the Kaifeng section of the FTZ will establish a joint air cargo service center, and extend the service of Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport," Gao said. "As a transportation pivot, Kaifeng also plans to build an international land port, a highway port and a river port that mainly transports grain."
China has scores of special trade and economic zones, many of them located near major sea ports, that offer regulatory and tax breaks to companies that locate within them. They are aimed at nurturing specific industries that the government deems worthy of development and will link into China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a regional infrastructure development plan.
A slew of new zones has been announced in recent months as cadres seek to rejuvenate an economy that has been ravaged by the coronavirus outbreak. Among the largest is the Hainan Free Trade zone in the southern island province, for which more than 435 billion yuan has been earmarked.
The Kaifeng FTZ area will also focus on developing industries such as services outsourcing, tourism, creative design and cultural communications.
Kaifeng has been an industrial hub in Henan province for decades. A group of major domestic and foreign enterprises, such as China Resources and Singapore-headquartered real estate company Mapletree Investments, have set up their branches in the Kaifeng FTZ area.
Shanghai Mapletree Management, a subsidiary of Mapletree Investments, has built a comprehensive logistics centre in the area. With an investment of 800 million yuan, the project focuses on high-end logistics storage facilities, cold chain logistics and e-commerce logistics systems.
By the end of April, the Kaifeng section of the FTZ was home to 5,538 companies.
In the past three years, the area has seen a boom in investment. The number of registered companies there was 30 times higher than the period before it became an FTZ area, and the number of registered foreign companies was 28 times higher. In the first four months of this year, Kaifeng attracted 76 investment projects with a value of 48bn yuan, according to the local government.
Last year, the business environment of the Kaifeng FTZ area was ranked 43rd in a simulation ranking by World Bank Index, three places higher than the national average.
"We will make full use of the FTZ functions, develop more projects that are related to the Belt and Road Initiative and the ecological protection of the Yellow River. Besides, the city will create more diversified sales channels and complete industrial chains for enterprises," said Gao.