北部湾经济区内，一个个百亿元、千亿元的工业园区建设热火朝天；南宁、钦州- 防城港、北海、铁山港（龙潭）、东兴（凭祥）5 个组团，活力迸发；以不到广西五分之一的土地、四分之一的人口，北部湾经济区创造了超过全广西三分之一的生产总值和近一半的进出口总额。
到了今年，中国国家统计局数据显示，上半年首3个月广西北部湾经济区生产总值就达1117.59 亿元，比去年同期增长16.3% ，比全国7.1%的增速高出9.2 个百分点。也就是说，北部湾经济区的经济规模不到5年就翻一倍以上。
2011年，北部湾经济区生产总值3862.33 亿元，同比增长15.9%，6 年年均增长约16%。
中央力挺大力发展基建 北部湾 “大动脉”打通
向外看，通往越南、云南、贵州、湖南、广东的6 条高速公路全部打通，通往广东、湖南、云南的高速铁路加快建设。空中交通更加便捷，南宁、桂林两个区域枢纽机场“双轮驱动”、支线和通用机场“并驾齐驱”，广西已有飞行航线达182 条。投资68亿元的南宁吴圩国际机场新航站区及配套扩建工程，正加紧施工。
目前，东协10国已有5 国在南宁设总领馆。2011年，广西与东协诸国的贸易额为2005年的7.8 倍，与东协诸国的进出口规模居西部12省区市之首。
中国-东协博览会落户邕城8 年来，共有42位中国和东协国家领导人、1500多名部长级贵宾来到南宁出席盛会，31.6万名客商参会，贸易成交额116.9 亿美元。
近年来，钦州港货柜业务以年均80% 以上的增量实现跨越式发展。2011年，钦州港完成货柜吞吐量40万标准箱，超越湛江港。今年1 至4 月，完成货柜吞吐量13.64万标准箱，同比增长68.90%。
文章转引自：马来西亚《南洋商报》，2012年6月5日。Economic development in the Guangxi Autonomous Region is taking off after languishing in the backwater for nearly a century. Thanks to the establishment of the Asean-China Free Trade Area in 2010, Guangxi, the gateway of China’s south-western region, the nexus of three economic zones – the Beibu Gulf Economic Zone, the Pearl River Delta Economic Zone and the South West Economic Zone – is all ready for a tremendous boost as evidenced from the implementation of extensive infrastructure development projects that include new ports and new cities catering for border trade with Nanning, the capital city, as the hub.
As of now, almost every local official will be proud to tell you that the Beibu Gulf Economic Zone has been elevated as part of the national “Go West” development thrust and the fourth coastal development zone after that of the Pearl River Delta, Yangtze River Delta and the Bohai Gulf.
The Beibu Gulf Economic Zone comprises the administrative areas of Nanning, Beihai, Qinzhou and Fengchenggang as designated in a policy proclamation in February, 2008. It is the hub of Asean-China Free Trade Area, the Greater-Beibu Gulf Economic Co-operation Zone, the Greater-China-Vietnam Meikong River Co-operation Zone, the Greater Pearl River Economic Zone and the regional co-operative zones involving the cities or municipalities of China’s six provinces in the South-West.
Because of its strategic position, Beibu Gulf Economic Zone is pivotal to the full scale co-operation between China and Asean nations.
Geographically, it faces the Beibu Gulf to its south with China’s South-West as its heart land in the north. To the east is the Pearl River Delta and to the south-west, it shares the border with Vietnam. It provides the vital links, both sea and land, with all Asean nations.
Its potential is tremendous even though it is small in terms of land area and population. The area measures 42,0000 sq km – just one-fifth of Guangxi – with a sea area of 130,000 sq km and a coastline of 1,595km. It has a population of only 13 million. However, within the Beibu Gulf Economic Zone, multi-billion-yuan industrial parks are mushrooming, notably in Nanning, Qinzhou, Fengchenggang, Beihai, Tieshangang (Loongtan), and Dongxing (Pingxiang), the five booming areas. Its GDP is a third of Guangxi’s and nearly half of the province’s export and import trade value.
Beibu Gulf Economic Zone’s GDP in 2006 was valued at 143.9 billion yuan, only 30 per cent of Guangxi’s total GDP. However, for the first three months this year, its GDP hit 111.76 billion yuan, a 16.3 per cent jump over the same period last year. According to figures issued by the Chinese National Statistics Bureau, the growth rate for the first three months was 9.2 percentage points higher than the national GDP growth of 7.1 per cent. This also means that the GDP growth of Beibu Gulf Economic Zone has more than doubled in five years.
Qinzhou, Beihai and Fengchenggang rank as the top three in terms of economic growth in Guangxi. The cargo handled by the Beibu Gulf Port in 2011 was153,000,000 tonnes , 30.92 per cent higher than that of the previous year to become one of the leading ports in China.
Beibu Gulf Economic Zone has been booming since the establishment of the Asean-China Free Trade Area in 2010 and has attracted investors from neighbouring provinces as well as those from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau in the establishment of joint-venture industrial parks.
Entrepreneurs are using it as a new platform, a new experimental ground to push China-Asean economic cooperation to new heights. With the combined advantages of modern port facilities, policy preferences, resources and strategic position, the Beibu Gulf Economic Zone has been able to embrace the Asean nations while serving and stimulating economic growth in the surrounding regions of China.
Its rapid development from the drawing board to a full-fledge economic zone took only a few years. However, it signals the awakening of Guangxi which has been regarded as a sleeping hollow for century even though Beihai was once a thriving gateway of the Silk Route on the Ocean and Qinzhou was designated to be developed as the second major port of the south under Dr Sun Yet Sen’s national building strategy. Beihai was also designated by the National Council as one of the 14 coastal cities to be further developed in 1984. Nevertheless, the general impression of Beihai, or even Guangxi in general, has been a sleeping hollow, a poor far-off border region populated only by the very old and the very young.
However, with the big push by the Chinese central government in developing the south-western region and the opening up of the economy, and with the opportunities provided by the establishment of Asean-China Free Trade Area, the Beibu Gulf Economic Zone is now the engine of growth for Guangxi. The tell-tale signs are the mushrooming skyscrapers in Nanning and modern expressways linking Vietnam and neighbouring Chinese provinces of Yunnan, Guizhou, Hunan and Guangdong and railway networks to Guangdong, Hunan and Yunnan provinces while the regional airports of Nanning and Guilin serve 182 air routes in and out of Guangxi. The new airport for Nanning costing 6.8 billion yuan is fast taking shape.
Economic co-operation between Beibu Gulf Economic Zone and Asean nations is expanding fast. In 2011, the value of trade was US$9.56 billion which was 7.8 times higher than in 2005, making Asean the biggest trade partner for Guangxi for the last 13 consecutive years.
At present, five of the 10 Asean nations have set up consulate general offices in Nanning. More than 40 per cent of tourists to Guangxi are from Asean nations and half of Asean students in China are studying the Nanning. The China-Asean Expo has been held for the last eight years with accumulated business deals amounting to US$11.69 billion.
All these point to a new boom for the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
The establishment of the China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park is a pride to the people of Guangxi. It is the first joint-venture project between China and Malaysia and the third between China and a foreign country after the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park and the China-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City Project. It is an iconic joint-venture project carefully nurtured by the leaders of Malaysia and China. It is being developed in accelerated pace, drawing investments from Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.
The role played by Beibu Gulf Economic Zone is crucial as the opening up of Beibu Gulf region means the opening up of Guangxi and the opening up of China’s south-west. The Qinzhou Free Trade Zone, the Pingxiang Free Trade Zone, the Nanning Bonded Free Trade and Logistics Centre, as well as the Beihai Export Processing Zone has combined to function as a comprehensive logistics hub connecting the eastern, western and central parts of China’s southern region.
The ports of Beihai, Fangchenggang and Qinzhou in Beibu Gulf are now connected with 220 ports in 80 countries or regions. The newly built container terminal of Qinzhou Port will soon begin operations, opening up container traffic to Malaysia and Singapore. The volume of container cargo handled by the Qinzhou Port has been rising rapidly in recent years. In 2011, container cargo handled by Qinzhou was 400,000 TEUs, surpassing that of Zhanjiang Port. Between January and April this year, container cargo handled by Qinzhou Port was 136,400 TEUs, up 68.9 per cent from the similar period of last year.
On April 12 this year, the first batch of 4X4s from the United States was shipped in at Qinzhou Port, making it the first port for China’s south-west region and fifth for the whole country for the direct importation of CBUs. A nearer port of entry means significant savings for car traders in the west and South-western regions of China.
People in Beibu Gulf region often pride themselves in being the first, the best, the biggest and the strongest in many things in the region, in China and even in the world. Such bullish sentiment provides a strong motivation for the swift implementation of many development projects. As stated by the Secretary of the Beihai Municipality Mr Wang Xiaodong, Beihai was one of the 14 coastal cities to be opened up in the 80’s. However, it missed the bus then and now the conditions are ripe and Beihai must seize the opportunity.
Beibu Gulf treasures its talents and human capital. As so aptly said by a senior party official, for the development, capital is important, projects are also important but talents are even more important. “If we lose out in capital or projects, the loss is temporary but losing talents would damage our foundation and result in losing our future.”
The development of Beibu Gulf has attracted talents from all over China. In the year 2010, the provincial government implemented a set of 11 strategies to boost the development of Guangxi, especially the setting up of multi-billion-yuan industrial parks, economic zones, free trade zones as well as a modern service industry in Beibu Gulf Economic Zone. This has attracted more than 2,000 specialists and professionals involved in the setting up and operation of the various establishments and economic development zones and in turn, they have trained and nurtured more than 20,000 technical staff who forms the backbone of the various sectors in the economy.
(Translated and compiled by Hoo Ban Khee, based on a special report published by Nanyang Siang Pau dated June 5, 2012.)