What happened: A long-awaited plan for developing the Greater Bay Area (GBA)–including Hong Kong, Macau, and 9 cities in southern Guangdong province–was released on Monday. While the 11 cities already represent a manufacturing and economic powerhouse, the plan revealed further steps to integrate the area. Growth will be centered around four key cities, each of which have a distinct role: Hong Kong, Macau, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen. The plan states that Hong Kong and Macau research and design firms, as well individual residents, based in the mainland could receive equal benefits from the national government. In addition, it would set up a Greater Bay Area international commercial bank in Guangdong. The plan stated it would build up the GBA city cluster by 2022, and closely connect all markets by 2035.
Why it’s important: The Greater Bay Area, previously known as the Pearl River Delta, has long been an economic and innovative hub for China. Infrastructure projects like the world’s largest sea crossing–linking Hong Kong, Macau, and Zhuhai–and new high-speed rail links have brought the cities closer together. However, the master plan lays out clear objectives for coordinated development of all 11 cities for the first time. It also sets a specific timeline. Not surprisingly, the region’s four biggest cities were selected to lead the charge. With new benefits available to non-mainland companies and entrepreneurs, however, smaller cities such as manufacturing hub Foshan or Macau neighbor Zhuhai could also see an influx of business. US tariffs and an overall slowing economy may hold back growth for now, but as an analyst previously told TechNode, the GBA represents a “long-term ambition” that will shape the area for decades to come.