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Issue 07, 2001 (15 July)
 Western Express

Tourism a Pillar Industry in Tibet

Tibet has listed tourism as one of its six pillar industries in its tenth five-year plan. According to Zhang Wansheng, director of the autonomous region's tourism bureau, Tibet will be receiving 1.4 million domestic and overseas tourists by the end of 2005. Of this number, 240,000 will be from overseas, representing an annual growth of 15%, while 1.16 million will be domestic visitors, or an annual increase of 25%. Total revenue from tourism will reach Rmb1.55 billion, about 10% of the autonomous region's GDP.

The five-year plan puts forward the following measures for building Tibet into a choice international tourist attraction:

  1. Great efforts will be made to develop domestic tourism, promote international tourism, expand out-bound tourism, and forge links with major tourist cities both at home and abroad in order to increase its market share in the international and domestic markets.

  2. Steps will be taken to tap tourist resources and develop quality tourist products with strong foreign exchange earning capability. Improved facilities and good services will be offered in order to establish a tourist industry that combines sight-seeing, exploration, leisure and resort. Emphasis will be put on the development of eco-tours, cultural tours, leisure tours and exploratory tours.

  3. The infrastructure within and outside tourist areas will be strengthened. Existing tourist routes and scenic spots will be improved, and action will be taken to open up new routes and destinations. Lhasa will be the made the starting point of tours to six different parts of Tibet, five neighbouring provinces and Nepal. Efforts will be made to complete the construction of three overland circuit routes, namely the Lhasa-Nyingchi-Shannon-Lhasa circuit, Lhasa-Xigaze-Ngari-Nagqu-Lhasa circuit, and Lhasa-Nagqu-Qamdo-Nyingchi-Lhasa circuit.

Chongqing to Become Largest Bills Market

Chongqing's bills market has been steadily growing after several years of development and expansion. Today, it is doing better than any other western province or city in terms of the scale of acceptance, discount and rediscount of banker and trade acceptance bills.

According to the Chongqing Business Management Department of the People's Bank of China, Chongqing's rediscount balance was Rmb7.48 billion at the end of April. Banker acceptance endorsed by commercial banks exceeds Rmb24 billion in value each year, equivalent to 40% of the city's credit growth. The number of pilot enterprises for the discount and rediscount of trade acceptance has increased to 37, with total value of bills accepted exceeding Rmb2.5 billion last year. The above three major indicators are the best among various western provinces and autonomous regions, suggesting that Chongqing has become the largest bills market in western China.

The implementation of an automatic clearing system provides the necessary hardware support for Chongqing's development as western China's largest bills market. Thanks to this clearing system, about 500 units have been able to go online for bills exchange within the municipality. The system covers all major districts (cities) and counties in Chongqing and handles 26,000 transactions with a total value of over Rmb2 billion daily on average. Chongqing also established inter-city bills exchange with Chengdu on January 1 this year. At present, more than 170 transactions with over Rmb20 million are handled daily.

The rapid development of the bills market has greatly eased the difficulty of Chongqing enterprises, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs), in raising funds. Through discounting and rediscounting, half of the total discounted and rediscounted cash flow of bank acceptance now goes to SMEs while over 60% of total discounted and rediscounted trade acceptance goes to SMEs producing auto and motor-cycle parts.

Shaanxi Improves Investment Environment

Shaanxi's investment software still leaves much to be desired in spite of improvements made in recent years. The problems facing foreign investors are wide-ranging and difficult to tackle, and have a negative impact on Shaanxi's image to the outside world. In order to cope with the state's "Go West" strategy and imminent WTO entry as well as to enhance its local economic development, Shaanxi has made this year its investment environment improvement year.

Starting from now, governments at all levels in Shaanxi will conduct a full screening of documents concerning the use of foreign capital. Laws and regulations and relevant papers drafted by provincial departments will be strictly examined, and those that need to be revised or abolished will be announced after being reviewed. With the exception of those specified by the State Council and provincial government, indiscriminate administrative charges imposed on foreign-invested enterprises (FIEs) will be revoked. A system of "FIE payment registration card" will be introduced for the centralised collection of charges.

In future, law-enforcement officers must produce their warrants and issue invoices printed by the finance department when collecting administrative charges from FIEs. Measures have been taken to screen and streamline procedures for the examination and approval of projects proposed by foreign investors. People's courts at all levels made concerted efforts in May and June to tackle difficult cases which had been dragged on for a long time, and the outcome was announced at the end of June.

Meanwhile, Shaanxi will take steps to regulate the business of agencies that provide land and real estate evaluation, project cost auditing and other services to foreign investors. All agencies which have been complained by foreign companies for fraud and deception and have a bad name in the trade will be struck off. Between now and October, a system of performance pledge will be implemented in sectors such as banking, tourism, telecommunications, transportation, railways, customs and commodity inspection. Chinese and English signs will be put up at major commercial establishments, service units, tourist spots and public facilities in Xi'an, Baoji and other key cities.

Export Processing Zones in Chengdu and Chongqing

The Sichuan Chengdu Export Processing Zone, the first of its kind in western China, officially became operational at the end of June. Six world-renowned companies have signed up to enter the zone, with total investment reaching US$180 million. Meanwhile, the State Council has also approved the establishment of the Chongqing Export Processing Zone, which is slated for completion in three to five years.

Zhao Guanghua, deputy director of the General Administration of Customs (GAC), and Wang Hengfeng, vice governor of Sichuan, officiated at the opening of the Sichuan Chengdu Export Processing Zone on June 23. The zone will create better conditions for local high-tech enterprises to expand the international market. It will also help Sichuan and Chengdu accelerate foreign trade growth and promote Sichuan's industrial restructuring as a whole so that it can better serve other parts of western China.

It is understood that Toyota of Japan, Parker Aerospace of the US, Convac of Hong Kong and three other famous international companies have signed up for space in the zone, the first phase of which covers an area of 0.6 sq km. Efforts will be made to increase the zone's total export value to US$1.5 billion by 2005.

On the other hand, the State Council has given the green light to the Chongqing Export Processing Zone as one of China's first batch of 16 state-level pilot export processing zones. The establishment of this zone with a total area of three sq km will have a far-reaching impact on the acceleration of Chongqing's opening up.

With this development, Chongqing will have its own zone for international trade and economic expansion. Enterprises set up in the zone will be eligible for "tax exemption, bonding and tax rebate." In other words, domestic raw materials and spare parts entering the export processing zone will be treated as exports and given tax rebates.

The Chongqing Export Processing Zone is located at Yuanyangzhen in a new development area to the north of the municipality. The first phase will involve an investment of Rmb400 million and cover an area of one sq km.