A cross-border duty-free shopping center in Nansha Pilot Free Trade Zone in Guangzhou. （Photo/Xinhua）
The Nansha Pilot Free Trade Zone will become a new international shipping hub, linking Guangzhou to more countries and regions in the years to come.
Guangzhou has been a major commercial city and a trading port in China since ancient times and Nansha, located at the estuary of the Pearl River, should play an even bigger part in the city's opening up and foreign trade, said Pan Yuzhang, deputy director of the Nansha Pilot Free Trade Zone's administrative committee.
"To this end, Nansha port is negotiating to open more global ocean routes in the coming years while expansion of the port is well underway," Pan said, without revealing specific details.
Meanwhile, two luxury cruiser docks, with a capacity of more than 100,000 metric tons each, will be completed and start service in the first half of 2019, with an aim to build Nansha into one of the major ocean cruise centers in Asia, Pan added.
Last year, cruiser piers in Nansha, which has opened cruise routes to Japan and Southeast Asian countries, handled more than 400,000 passenger trips.
Nansha is the only ocean port in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province. The port, which now has 16 deepwater container piers that can handle 150,000-ton vessels, has now opened international ocean routes to more than 200 cities and regions.
Meanwhile, Nansha port is expected to become a sub-center of Guangzhou and a modern logistics center. It has built a series of special docks for grains, crude oil, vehicles and petrochemical products.
Last year, Nansha port's cargo throughput reached 335 million tons, while its container throughput came to more than 14.06 million TEUs, making it one of the largest ocean ports in the world.
Nansha, which officially became a pilot free trade zone in April 2015, has promised to further improve its infrastructure facilities and will simplify procedures for both overseas and domestic companies to settle down there.
The zone has now attracted more than 4,600 major foreign and domestic shipping and logistics companies, according to Pan.
Nansha's Longxue Island, where Guangzhou Shipping International Company Ltd is located, has become one of the three biggest ship building centers in China.
GSI, one of the major shipyards on the Chinese mainland and a Shanghai Stock Exchange-listed company, has a production capacity of more than 3.5 million DWT annually.
The establishment of the Nansha Pilot Free Trade Zone has further promoted the economic development of Nansha and helped accelerate its port construction.
According to official statistics, Nansha's GDP reached 139.2 billion yuan ($22.1 billion) last year, 22.5 times more than the figure in 2002.
Its import and export volume came to 195.17 billion yuan in 2017, 27.6 times more than the figure in 2002 and representing a fifth of Guangzhou's total.
Nansha attracted an actual foreign investment of $1.04 billion in 2017, 16 times more than the amount in 2002 and accounting for a sixth of the city's total.