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Italian designer Laura Minmini (L) talks with an exhibitor during the 130th session of the China Import and Export Fair, also known as the Canton Fair in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong Province, Oct. 15, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

South China's Guangdong Province recorded 8-percent GDP growth in 2021, rising to 12.4 trillion yuan (about 1.95 trillion U.S. dollars).

The province's foreign trade surpassed 8 trillion yuan last year, a year-on-year increase of 16.7 percent, according to a government work report delivered by Wang Weizhong, acting governor of the province, at the annual session of the provincial legislature on Thursday.

Guangdong, a manufacturing heartland and leading foreign trade player in the country, has strengthened its strategy of science and technology and reinforced the foundation of high-quality economic development, according to the government report.

The province is targeting economic growth of about 5.5 percent this year, according to Wang.

Bucking the pandemic

Guangdong's foreign trade performance has remained robust thanks to effective COVID-19 pandemic control in the country.

Jiangmen Foreign Trade Group Co., Ltd., established more than two decades ago, exports appliances, stainless steel and hardware to customers across the world.

"The company faced unprecedented challenges in the first half of 2020 due to the pandemic," said Xu Xiyan, board chairman of the company. "However, with China's effective curbing of the pandemic, many overseas orders have shifted to China, and our company has seen mounting orders."

Home appliance manufacturer Top Electric Appliances Industrial Ltd., which saw its revenue surge by over 30 percent in 2021, echoed the view.

"Thanks to the effective pandemic control, production and supply chains have remained relatively stable, creating a favorable environment for our company's development," said Li Weizhong, board chairman of the group.

Statistics show that the value-added industrial output of enterprises with an annual business turnover of at least 20 million yuan in the province was 3.75 trillion yuan in 2021, up 9 percent year on year, with a two-year average growth rate of 5.2 percent. The figures basically recovered to the pre-epidemic level.

The province's actual utilization of foreign investment amounted to 184 billion yuan in 2021, an increase of 13.6 percent year on year.

In the city of Huizhou, ExxonMobil invested about 10 billion U.S. dollars in building an ethylene project. Construction of the plant started in November.

"Demand for performance polymers will continue to increase in China, and we are well positioned to meet the needs of that growing market," said Karen McKee, president of ExxonMobil Chemical Company.

Packing power forward

In its government work report, Guangdong noted that it will put its policy focus on further enhancing the core competitiveness of its manufacturing industry and modernizing its industrial chain.

In 2021, the province channeled over 380 billion yuan, or 3.14 percent of its GDP, to research and development expenditure.

The provincial capital Guangzhou, where over 2.96 million cars were produced in 2021, is China's top city in terms of cars manufactured.

XPeng Motors, based in Guangzhou, has become a major player in the new energy vehicle (NEV) market in the country, with over 98,000 cars sold in 2021, up 263 percent year on year.

"The open and inclusive policy and solid industry foundation has fueled the company's rapid growth," said Xia Heng, cofounder of XPeng Motors.

Statistics show that, in 2021, the NEV industry in the province grew by 155.6 percent year on year.

In addition to the NEV market, the province has also seen strong momentum in the growth of other strategically emerging industries, such as industrial robots and integrated circuits, which increased by 56.5 percent and 30.3 percent, respectively, year on year.