The governments of Macau SAR and Guangdong Province will jointly govern the 106 square kilometers of land comprising Hengqin as part of a plan to deepen cooperation in order to facilitate the economic diversification of Macau.
According to details of the “Master Plan of the Development of the Guangdong-Macao Intensive Cooperation Zone in Hengqin”, released late Monday, a joint management committee will be formed and headed by the Governor of Guangdong Province and the Chief Executive of Macau SAR. An executive committee will be set up under the management committee and the SAR government will appoint the principal officers for the executive committee.
The strategic positioning of the cooperation zone is a new platform for facilitating the moderate economic diversification in Macau, a new space for Macau residents to live and work, a new enriched showcase for implementing “One country, Two Systems” and a new highland for promoting development of the Greater Bay Area.
Setting a series of development goals, Hengqin is expected to help build a smooth mechanism of mutual discussion, joint construction, joint administration and shared benefits between Guangdong and Macau by 2024. The zone is hoped to highly synergise with Macau’s economy and comprehensively establish a system for in-depth cohesion and regulations. which highly matches Macau, by 2029.
By 2035, the economic strength and technological competitiveness of the Cooperation Zone will be greatly enhanced, and the goal of promoting moderate economic diversification will be reached.
The idea, it seems, is to diversify Macau away from its current reliance on gaming, which currently contributes more than 85% of all tax revenue taken in by the government each year. This also fits in with China’s recent crackdown on cross-border gambling and those seen to be encouraging Chinese citizens to gamble.
The Hengqin cooperation zone will mainly focus on developing four new industrial sectors: “Scientific and Technological Research and High-end Manufacturing Industry”, “Traditional Chinese medicine and Macau brand Industry, “Cultural Tourism, Convention and Exhibition and Commercial and Trade Industry” and “Modern Financial Services Industry”.
The “Cultural, tourism and MICE Industries” sector will develop leisure and vacation, MICE and sport event tourism, recreation and wellness, rehabilitation and medical tourism. It will also establish a China and Portuguese-speaking International Trade Centre and an international hub port for digital trade.
The cooperation zone will provide tax relief for international elites, simplify the customs declaration procedures for goods, set up a new cross-border financial management system for capital flows and ease the limitation of investment capital.
The progress of “Macau New Neigbourhood” residential projects – which provides hundreds of residential premises for Macau residents in Hengqin – will be accelerated and Hengqin will build up educational, medical and social services to match the public welfare systems in Macau.
Macau’s vehicles will be fully allowed to enter the cooperation zone in Hengqin and Macau’s Light Rail will be extended to Hengqin and connected with the railway network of Zhuhai.
Macau’s Chief Executive, Ho Iat Seng, is due introduce more detail about the cooperation zone project this Friday.