With a population of 29 million, Chongqing in the south-western part of the country, is one of the fastest growing municipalities in China and has already attracted 200 of the world's top 500 multinational corporations.
The Liangjiang New Area in Chongqing was inaugurated in June 2010 and is the third national-level special zone approved by China's State Council following Pudong in Shanghai and Binhai in Tianjin.
The second Liangjiang Forum is being held in tandem with the Annual Conference of the China Enterprise Confederation (CEC) and the China Enterprise Directors Association (CEDA).
In his keynote address to the Forum, Dr. Supachai will be pointing to four key developmental challenges facing China. First, the need to re-orient growth towards domestic consumption. Second, the need to share the gains achieved in past decades more evenly among the regions and to address income inequality. Third, the need to strengthen the social services sector, such as health and education. Fourth, the need to support a transition towards less carbon-intensive production processes.
In his prepared statement, Dr. Supachai notes that China has already made significant progress in addressing some of the challenges. For example, the fact that China's current account surplus has narrowed from 10.6 per cent of GDP in 2007 to 2.9 per cent in 2011, and is expected to decline to about 2 per cent of GDP in 2012, is a sign that China is already moving towards a more consumption-driven growth path.
Dr. Supachai also notes the successful development of Chongqing as a major industrial manufacturing and transportation hub in inland China, and the 5-days-a-week direct rail freight service between Chongqing and the Port of Antwerp. Chongqing has seen rapid infrastructure build-up over the past decade, and public-private partnerships (PPPs) have contributed to this spectacular progress. If well managed, PPPs can draw on the capital and technological know-how of the private sector and at the same time serve the wider political, social and development objectives set by the public sector, Dr. Supachai observed.
Joining the UNCTAD Secretary-General in delivering keynote addresses at the Forum were the Hon. Mr. Zhang Dejiang, Vice Premier, and the Hon. Mr. Vincente Fox, former President of Mexico.