Jiangmen, on the western fringe of the Greater Bay Area, has a proud manufacturing tradition focusing heavily on motorbikes, lighting, car parts and clothing. Its industrial sector is undergoing a modernisation, increasingly geared toward new energy, medical equipment and high-end manufacturing.
As a result the city of 4.63 million people in Guangdong province is attracting new companies wishing to set up production bases there.
But its future role in the bay area – Beijing’s plan to integrate Hong Kong, Macau and nine mainland Chinese cities into a global economic powerhouse – could be hampered by the fact its “positioning” is unclear and it lacks a signature company, according to Bryan Chan, executive director of advisory services for South China at Colliers.
“Under the development of the Greater Bay Area, some industries may shift their base to Jiangmen,” said Chan. “Jiangmen’s industrial transformation and upgrade is proceeding at a steadily increasing pace.
“But in terms of industry, Jiangmen does not have something like Tencent. When you talk about Shenzhen you think of Tencent. It needs to work on developing a core industry.”
The city recently hosted the 2020 Jiangmen Advanced Manufacturing Expo. The exhibition, postponed from April to August, was smaller than usual because of the pandemic.
Nonetheless, some 200 exhibitors showcased their latest equipment, including automated production and packaging lines. One even displayed a small but successful mask production line.
“Jiangmen’s foundation of industry is very solid as a relatively old industrial city. In recent years, the government has [tried] to make the west of the Pearl River Delta an equipment-manufacturing hub. Jiangmen is a very important city in this,” said Irene Fan, deputy general manager at Guangdong Asia-Link Exhibition, the organiser of the expo.
Fan said the Jiangmen government “pays a lot of attention” to the development of manufacturing industries.
In the last two years, Colliers International had a number of projects helping businesses in Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong move to Jiangmen, Chan said.
“A lot of overseas Chinese had also set up businesses in Jiangmen during the early stages of the city’s development, so it has some foundations,” he added.
The Jiangmen government led a delegation to Hong Kong to search for partnership opportunities with Hong Kong businesses in March 2019, according to the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau. Investment agreements amounting to around 290 billion have been signed by Jiangmen and different organisations in Hong Kong, covering a wide range of areas, from agricultural products to incubation services.
Now that the high-speed railway passes through the Jianghai district of the city, journeys to Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong are much quicker, which will help to attract more businesses to the Jiangmen, Chan said.
Apart from manufacturing, Jiangmen serves another important role as a transport hub between western Guangdong and the Pearl River Delta cities, said Li Yujia, senior economist at the Guangdong Urban and Rural Planning and Design Institute.
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