North China's Tianjin Municipality seeks comprehensive cooperation with Hong Kong investors especially in the service sector, said Mayor Dai Xianglong at an investment promotion fair in Hong Kong yesterday.
The fair presents 104 projects worth 150 billion yuan (US$18.1 billion), mainly covering the service sector to lure Hong Kong investors.
The fair includes projects in the logistics, finance, intermediary agency, tourism, convention and exhibition industries that "Hong Kong and Tianjin could work on together," Dai said.
In logistics, Li Yali, director of the Tianjin municipal Commission of Development and Reform, said the city plans to invest 15.4 billion yuan (US$1.9 billion) in port construction by 2010.
The port's throughput reached 162 million tons last year, handling 3.02 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent unit).
The throughput is expected to reach 300 million tons, handling 10 million TEUs by 2010, Li said.
Meanwhile, the city's financial service has also opened to Hong Kong banks.
The Standard Chartered Bank got the green light to buy a 19.99 per cent stake in the to-be-established Bohai Bank in Tianjin.
How much the stake will cost is yet unknown but Standard Chartered said it would pay out of existing cash reserves.
Bohai Bank is a consumer and wholesale bank, and is the first new national bank in China for 16 years. Standard Chartered's involvement is the first time a foreign bank has been allowed to help set up a national bank.
The bank is expected to have a registered capital of 5 billion yuan (US$602.4 million) and its asset value is expected to reach 50 billion yuan (US$6 billion) in three years.
In addition, Dai encouraged more Hong Kong investors to invest in Tianjin's convention and exhibition sector since the city is short of such facilities.
On the tourism front, Dai said Tianjin would be added to the list of mainland cities under the Individual Travel Scheme early next year.
The scheme allows mainland tourists to visit Hong Kong and Macao individually without joining tour groups.
About 15,000 Tianjin travellers visited Hong Kong in the first nine months of this year. It is expected that the number will jump by 50 per cent after launching the Individual Travel Scheme.
Li revealed yesterday that in a major achievement of the fair, Hong Kong-listed Kingway Brewery Holdings Ltd agreed to invest US$100 million in a new plant in Tianjin, as part of its efforts to build a national brand.
Its investment in Tianjin is Kingway's first move outside its home turf in Guangdong, where it boasts a market share of about 16 per cent.
"The investment in Tianjin is an important strategic move for Kingway and enables us to expand beyond Guangdong Province," said Kingway Chairman Ye Xuquan in a statement.
Kingway, in which Dutch brewer Heineken has a 21 per cent stake via a joint venture, said in a statement the new plant is expected to have an annual production of 400,000 tons.
Meanwhile, New World Development, the Mass Transit Railway Corporation and China Force Oil & Grains Industrial also signed agreements with the Tianjin municipal government during yesterday's fair for a real estate, subway and logistics project.
Tianjin plans to build nine subway routes, the first one having been completed. Each will cost more than 10 billion yuan (US$1.2 billion).
(China Daily December 2, 2004)