The Macao SAR Government has welcomed the announcement of the Master Plan of the Development of the Guangdong-Macao Intensive Cooperation Zone in Hengqin.
The Central Government released details about the 106 square kilometres Cooperation Zone on Hengqin Island in early September, and spelled out the role that sectors such as tourism and the meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) will play in Macao’s economic diversification efforts.
The Master Plan identifies four industry families for development in Hengqin: scientific and technological research and high-end manufacturing industries; traditional Chinese medicine and Macao-branded industries; cultural tourism, convention and exhibition, and commercial and trade industries; and a modern financial industry.
In the tourism grouping, efforts will be made to develop tourism dedicated to leisure and vacation, convention and exhibitions, and sports events, with the goal of creating a high-standard international leisure tourism island that supports Macao’s development as a world tourism and leisure centre.
The Master Plan also suggests development of leisure and nourishment, rehabilitation and medical tourism.
The document mentions the need to develop and enhance the use of tourism resources on peripheral islands, and facilitate sailings of cross-border pleasure boats between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao.
Among other proposed initiatives are the joint development of an international premium quality consumer goods expo and bay area forum, and a convention and exhibition platform with global influence.
To encourage cross-border conventions and exhibitions with Macao in the Cooperation Zone, the document suggests the issuance of visas – or other travel permits – in accordance with the regulations to convention and exhibition working staff, professional exhibitors, and domestic and foreign visitors holding tickets for conventions and exhibitions for multiple border-crossing travel.
Open for business
At the heart of the plan are innovative financial and taxation policies, which will also benefit the tourism sector.
Earnings from tourism businesses established with foreign direct investment in the Cooperation Zone will be exempt from income tax. Other businesses in the Cooperation Zone are subject to a tax rate of 15%.
Also, capital expenditure by businesses in the Cooperation Zone will be eligible for a one-off deduction before tax for the taxation period in which the expenditure occurred, or accelerated depreciation.
The Macao SAR Chief Executive, Ho Iat Seng, said the Central Government had offered solid support for Macao to create further conditions for adequate economic diversification, by upgrading financial and taxation policies for the Cooperation Zone.
These policies would help attract a greater number of quality enterprises to base themselves in the Cooperation Zone, adding vitality to Macao’s economic diversification effort.
The Master Plan also mentions a new mechanism for mutual discussion, joint construction, joint administration, and shared benefits between Guangdong and Macao. An administrative committee to oversee the Cooperation Zone will be jointly formed, as well as an executive committee to implement the plan. In addition, representative offices of the CPC Guangdong Provincial Committee and the Guangdong Provincial Government will be set up in the Cooperation Zone.
The committees and other authorities in charge will oversee the management of the Cooperation Zone according to their specific duties, and collaborate in its construction and development, thus realising Macao’s industrial diversification and enhancing residents’ livelihoods.
The document sets milestones, including a 2029 deadline for obvious signs of economic diversification and integration of existing regulations, and realisation of Macao’s economic diversification by 2035.