Richard Murray Manuel: the ability for Kunming Area to do trade is spectacular

Editor’s note:

On August 30, 2019, the Kunming Area of China (Yunnan) Pilot Free Trade Zone (hereinafter referred to as "Kunming Area") was formally inaugurated. Over the past year, the Kunming Area has been centering on the development of economy, continuously optimizing the business environment and promoting the transformation and upgrading of industrial structure. It has actively integrated into the construction of Belt and Road Initiative, and strengthened international cooperation with other countries. To review what Kunming Area of China (Yunnan) Pilot Free Trade Zone has achieved, the Kunming Information Hub specially launches a talk show called Global Opinions of Kunming Area of China (Yunnan) Pilot Free Trade Zone, and invites overseas people to give their opinions about the Kunming Area, discover new paths for future development and explore more opportunities for sino-foreign economic and trade cooperation.

After one year's development, China (Yunnan) Pilot Free Trade Zone has made a good start in innovating modes of cross-border economic cooperation and building itself into China’s open front to South Asia and Southeast Asia, which attracts some foreigners’ attention. Richard Murray Manuel who comes from Canada and now works as an associate professor at Yunnan University of Business Management is one of them. A talk show from Kunming Information Hub was fortunate to invite him to give his opinions about China (Yunnan) Pilot Free Trade Zone recently. 

Agricultural advantages and convenient transportation   

Yunnan province is located in a low-latitude plateau, in which most of the areas are warm in winter and cool in summer. With abundant precipitation, sunlight and long frost-free period, it is suitable for planting a variety of food crops and commercial crops. Therefore, from Richard’s perspective, the agricultural advantage of Yunnan is really obvious. “Yunnan, because of its unique climate and its ability to produce all year round, is a good place for Canadian companies that are looking for agricultural products that they can bring back to Canada,” he said. 

In addition to its agricultural advantages, Yunnan also has transportation advantages. It has the largest number of waypoints connecting South Asian and Southeast Asian countries compared with other provinces in China. Yunnan-Vietnam Railway is in stable operation and the railway between Kunming and Vientiane will be open to traffic by the end of 2021. “Yunnan has a great airport that works as an international hub in Southeast Asia. The rail lines that have been in Yunnan for a hundred years now have connected Kunming with Vietnam and Laos. The ability for this region to do trade is spectacular,” Richard said. 

KICASC is positive for trade

To provide a good international business environment for investors, Kunming Area of China (Yunnan) Pilot Free Trade Zone has set up International Commercial Arbitration Service Centre (KICASC) and the International Commercial Disputes Resolution Service points in eight countries, including Laos. More than one hundred senior legal experts at board and home are employed to consist of the think tank of KICASC. 

In terms of KICASC, Richard said the arbitration board was going to be very positive for trade. It is widely acknowledged that there have been a lot of companies worrying that they can not be treated fairly if they invest in foreign counties. KICASC is established to resolve this problem. “As the arbitration board becomes more widely known in the international community, it's going to give Kunming a much greater advantage that businesses can know that they're going to be treated fairly if they invest in Kunming and that they are not going to lose money, and that is going to be positive for everybody involved,” Richard said. 

Greater publicity is needed

Before arriving in Kunming, Richard planned to leave Kunming once he finished the four-moth exchange program. But he has actually stayed for two and a half years. “I just don't want to leave. I really enjoy working here and a lot of the foreigners that I know that come to do a short term project here are finding that the economic conditions and the people... and of course, the weather here is so nice, that a lot of foreigners just enjoy being and working here,”he said. 

In Richard’s opinion, although Kunming is a good place, it is not widely known out of China, and this has limited the development of Kunming Area of China (Yunnan) Pilot Free Trade Zone.  “Let's be honest. In Canada, when people talk about China, they think of Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzheng. They don't think of Kunming, especially when it comes to doing business,” Richard said, “I think really Kunming just needs greater publicity. People just don't know enough about Kunming in Yunnan outside of China. I think that once Canadians start to understand more about Yunnan and the benefits of being involved in Kunming, they'll naturally start gravitating here.” 

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(Editors: Alison, Christine)

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