The Pearl River Delta includes Hong Kong, Macau and part of Guangdong province (including the nine municipalities of Dongguan, Foshan, Guangzhou, Huizhou, Jiangmen, Shenzhen, Zhaoqing, Zhongshan and Zhuhai), and is a region which was opened up to commerce and foreign investment in 1978 by the central government of the People’s Republic of China.
Hong Kong and Macau quickly made use of that opening up to transfer their industrial base to Guangdong province, currently the wealthiest in all of China, keeping management, communications, logistics, finances and professional services within their respective territories. Lower labor costs on the other side of the border also gave Hong Kong and Macau a competitive edge.
As a result of the Beijing government’s decision, Guangdong became one of the most important industrial bases in the world, providing work for over 10 million people, while Hong Kong and Macau became cities focused on internationally renowned services.
The province is the wealthiest in the whole of China and is also the one which shows the most rapid development. It is estimated that just from Hong Kong more than 53,000 of the total 59,000 companies that the SAR had in continental China have moved their industrial units to Guangdong , particularly to the special economic area of Shenzhen ( Hong Kong ). In Macau the transfer was to the special economic area of Zhuhai.
Consecutive years of investment and development of infrastructures have given the Pearl River Delta a global and reliable transport network including airports, railroads, ports, highways and waterways. There are five airports, including international airports in Hong Kong , Canton and Macau . All the cities within the Delta are linked by highways and there are still projects to be finished such as the Zhuhai-Macau-Hong Kong road link.
The Pearl River Delta economic area, with an area of 39,380 Km2, continues to be the main exporter and importer of all the great regions of China , and can even be defined as an economic power.
In 2013, the Pearl River Delta with more than 65 million habitants represented 53.7% of the Guangdong province’s population or 4.2% of China’s total population. Guangdong’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) was 79.1% or 9.3% of China’s total GDP.
In the same year, the Pearl River Delta was responsible for 95.4% of Guangdong exports or 27.5% of China’s total exports. Guangdong also accounted for 73% of retail sales or 8% of the total consumer good sales in China.
Apart from investment from Macau and Hong Kong companies in the rest of the Delta, the Province of Guangdong has, for the last 20 years, been the focus of direct foreign investment, much of which from North American companies looking to make use of the same competitive edge enjoyed by Macau and Hong Kong .