Introduction to the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area

In 2015, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China collaboratively released the Vision and Actions on Jointly Building Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road. It was the first time for the “Greater Bay Area” to be mentioned in the state’s official document when the “Building of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area” was proposed in the “Belt and Road” Initiative. In 2017, witnessed by President Xi Jinping, the National Development and Reform Commission, the People’s Government of Guangdong Province, the Hong Kong SAR Government and the Macao SAR Government inked the Framework Agreement on Deepening Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Co-operation in the Development of the Bay Area, which sets out the prototype of division of labour, co-operation direction and coordination mechanism for the governments of the three areas. It is mentioned in the report at the 19th CPC National Congress that the country will “continue to support Hong Kong and Macao in integrating their own development into the overall development of the country. The country will give priority to the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, co-operation between Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macao, and regional co-operation in the Pan-Pearl River Delta, thus fully advancing mutually beneficial co-operation between the mainland and the two regions.” In 2018,  Premier Li Keqiang proposed in the Government Work Report to launch the development plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area with a view to promoting the mutually beneficial collaboration among the Mainland, Hong Kong and Macao. These symbolise that the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area will be in full swing.

Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area covers Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Macao Special Administrative Region and nine cities in Guangdong Province, namely, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Huizhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing (the “9+2”). As of 2017, the total area of the Greater Bay Area was around 56,000 square metres and the population was more than 69 million, generating an economic aggregate of over US$ 1.5 trillion and more than US$ 2 trillion of total foreign trade. Meanwhile, the “9+2” cities and regions are geographically and culturally close, with close people-to-people bond and apparent geographic advantages. These areas boast interconnected infrastructures, high-end industrial structure, innovation-driven and open economy. The characteristics of a world-class bay area are becoming more and more visible in the Greater Bay Area. At present, the Greater Bay Area is in a nationwide leading place in terms of economic aggregate, quality and potential, playing a strategically pivotal role in China’s economic and societal development as well as reform and opening up. The Greater Bay Area is expected to be the fourth world leading bay area, following the Tokyo Bay, New York metropolitan area and San Francisco Bay Area, and eventually become an important booster of the world economy.

Macao’s Role in the Development of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area

Against the background of the regional collaboration and new development pattern in the new era, the interconnection of flow of people, logistics, information exchange and fund flow is growing stronger and faster, particularly after the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. It has become a big opportunity for Macao to deepen the regional co-operation, integrate itself into the country’s development and maintain stable prosperity in the long run. As the smallest export-oriented economy in the Greater Bay Area, Macao has much to offer with its unique strengths, such as the institutional advantages derived from the “One Country, Two Systems”, its status as a free port, the harmonic mixture of eastern and western cultures, the city’s close linkage with Portuguese-speaking countries (PSC) for years and a big number of returned overseas Chinese. By adhering to the concept of “supporting the country with Macao’s strengths”, giving full play to the city’s functions – precise collaboration, precise development and precise liaison, Macao is grasping the unprecedented opportunities arising from the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and accelerating the progress of becoming a “World Centre of Tourism and Leisure” and a “Commercial and Trade Co-operation Service Platform for China and Portuguese-speaking Countries”, while fostering the organic combination between the diversified and advantageous industries in the Greater Bay Area and Macao’s service industry, pushing forward the sustainable development of the moderately diversified economy and constantly improving the city’s competitiveness and economic potential. In the meantime, the city is striving to enrich and broaden the three paths of foreign trade and economic co-operation, namely the one to Brazil via Latin America, to the EU via Portugal, to Africa via Angola and Mozambique, with the aim to enhance Macao’s status and function in the country’s development and opening up. Pro-actively improving these three paths is also beneficial for Macao to build extensive connection between the cities in the Greater Bay Area and PSCs, to “go global and attract investments”, to jointly develop PSC markets, to support the growth of the “Belt and Road” Initiative and the Greater Bay Area, and to provide quality services to the whole new world that brought by the Greater Bay Area.

To intensify its endeavour to nurture the moderate diversification of economic development and optimise industrial structure, the Government of the Macao Special Administrative Region has been strenuously supporting its emerging industries including the convention and exhibition industry (also known as the MICE industry), traditional Chinese medicine, cultural and creative industry, featured finance sector. The Macao Trade and Investment Promotion Institute (IPIM) is subordinate to the Secretariat for the Economy and Finance, and it is a department responsible for promoting external trade, attracting investment, nurturing MICE development and handling the economic and commercial collaboration between China and PSCs. IPIM has been pragmatically implementing the Macao SAR Government’s strategy to develop the local MICE sector by giving “priority to conventions”, by placing importance on hosting local branded events such as the Macao International Environmental Co-operation Forum & Exhibition (MIECF), the Macao International Trade and Investment Fair (MIF) and the Guangdong & Macao Branded Products Fair. IPIM also open doors to more opportunities for local industries by providing the “One-stop Service” for MICE Bidding and Support, as well as various MICE support programmes and introducing more quality events in Macao such as the International Infrastructure Investment and Construction Forum (IIICF). In addition, IPIM has also been improving the internationalism, scale, quality, concept and strategy of all different events, while enriching these events with elements of the Greater Bay Area by inviting commercial entities from different GBA cities to Macao’s branded events to set up consultation counters and GBA themed pavilion, publicising information about running businesses in GBA, organising relevant networking activities, helping GBA cities to build external connections. IPIM constantly serves as a docking platform for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, Portuguese-speaking countries, countries and regions along the “Belt and Road”, whereby paving path to even more opportunities.

Furthermore, to work in line with the construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, IPIM is maximising the function of Guangzhou Representative Office as the extension platform of IPIM services, in order to reinforce the connection with the Greater Bay Area. By extending the service scope of the “One-stop Service” of Guangzhou Representative Office, deepening and refining its services and providing “service at doorstep” in the nine cities in the GBA, IPIM takes the initiative to push forward the economic co-operation and exchange among GBA cities, Portuguese-speaking countries and Macao enterprises, to help GBA enterprises to tap into PSC and other international markets, and to integrate Macao into GBA’s growth. IPIM’s services have also been enriched by the newly launched commercial registration assistance provided to Macao enterprises intending to invest in the Mainland, the optimisation of service procedures for the Mainland’s enterprises planning to invest in Macao, and the support for Macao youths to do internship, get employed and start businesses in the Greater Bay Area. In the meantime, the Economic Bureau, the Labour Affairs Bureau and the Monetary Authority of Macao join hands to set up counters that provide relevant consultation and document forwarding services.

By providing the Investor’s “One-stop Service”, business promotion services, investment residency application services and business information consultations, IPIM continues to create even better business and investment environment for enterprises and investors at home and abroad, as well as local small and medium-sized enterprises, and contribute to the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.