Economic Factors

In the twenty-four years that followed the creation of several Special Economic Zones in the south of China, the GDP of the provinces involved grew at astonishing rates. For instance, in Guangdong province the GDP figures have increased at double-digit rates for more than twenty years since 1979. Currently, Guandong is considered to be China's largest economic contributor, and the predictions for 2013 set the province's gross domestic product at 616 billion, a figure that represents almost 11 per cent of China's total GDP.

Exports that originate in the Pearl River Delta account for almost 40 per cent of the total export figures in China, and foreign investment continues to boom. Nowadays, there are over 400 companies listed in the Forbes 500 list that have set up an office in Guangdong, and the province has economic and / or business ties with more than 200 countries worldwide.

Within the Pearl River Delta, Guangdong is recognised as one of the major export and manufacturing centres at global level. The main sub-sectors include electronics, construction, petrochemical, textile, automotive, and pharmaceutical. In terms of the economic activities carried out in the delta, it is possible to observe two separate areas: while the cities in the west bank of the delta focus on manufacturing household appliances, those in the east bank concentrate on producing electronic and hig-tech equipment.

Zhuhai has benefited greatly from its proximity to Macau. It has a variety of industries, including textiles, electronics, fishing, and tourism. In Dongguan, migrant workers represent almost half of the population, as the city has implemented a scheme that converted its constituent towns into manufacturing centres, each of which specialises in a separate industry, like furniture, foodstuffs, clothing, and electronics.

Shantou one of the most economically active cities in the east of the Pearl River Delta, although it is not as successful as its neighbours. Since the 1930s, Shantou's port has been among China's top-5 commerce hubs, and the city is a leading manufacturer and exporter of toys. Shantou is one of the main cities in the Chaoshan area, which despite being designated a Special Economic Zone in the 1980s, has lagged behind its neighbours in terms of economic development due to corruption.

The city of Foshan is the Pearl River Delta's third most important manufacturing centre, and almost 70 per cent of its economy derives from foreign investment (mostly from Taiwan). This pattern is also evident in rest of cities that are part of the delta, whose development has been largely made possible thanks to investment from other neighbouring countries.

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