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As Northern China’s largest free trade port, Dalian is a modern, international shipping metropolis that serves as a gateway to Beijing and Tianjin. Dalian is the primary city in Liaoning’s coastal economic belt and has the highest GDP of any city in Northeast China.

In 2017, Dalian’s GDP was $104.75 billion (RMB 736.40 billion) – and recorded 9.4 percent annual growth. The city’s primary industry contributed $6.79 billion (RMB 47.71 billion), 3.1 percent growth, its secondary industry $43.42 billion (RMB 305.26 billion), and 9.3 percent growth. The services sector added the remaining $54.54 billion (RMB 383.43 billion), 10.4 percent growth.

In 2017 the city’s imports grew 32 percent to $35.6 billion (RMB 250.27 billion). Primary imports from the U.S. include agricultural products (soybeans, edible oil and corns), dairy products, automobiles and parts, steel, medical devices, consumer products, as well as LED screens and integrated circuits. While most Dalian-based companies prefer U.S. corn due to its competitive pricing, China has recently rejected more than one million tons of U.S. corn after detecting an unapproved, genetically-modified strain in shipments, which has complicated the corn importation process. The importation process of advanced manufacturing equipment, however, is still stable.

Key Industries

As an industrial base of China, a wide variety of industries are found in Dalian, including:

  • Shipbuilding
  • Machinery manufacturing
  • Petroleum refining
  • Biological engineering
  • Digitalized technology

Fishing and Aquaculture Industry

As a port city, Dalian possesses abundant ocean resources and is one of China’s leading cities for the marine industry. In 2018, the fishing sector accounted for around half of the city’s agricultural output. However, Dalian is now struggling with dwindling coastal resources and is shifting its fishery production structure from catch dominance to aquaculture.

Recently, the city established a fund to encourage the development and importation of marine technology used to locate and navigate fishing grounds, which, by comparison, is a mature industry in the U.S. In order to support commercial and recreational marine fisheries, the city is also experiencing growing demand for watersports equipment, fishing vessels and fishing tackle.

IT and Software Industry

Since the 1990s, with Beijing’s strong support, Dalian has promoted itself as a leading city for IT and software development. Although its goal is to become China’s strongest IT outsourcing hub, Dalian still relies heavily on foreign technology as a foundation for its domestic software sector.

In 1998, the government created a software park in western Dalian, designated exclusively for the development of the IT and software industry. To encourage growth, imports of advanced instruments and equipment to the software park are exempt from import duty, as long as such equipment cannot be produced in China. Nearly half of the enterprises established in the software park are foreign-owned, making it easier for U.S. software providers to do business with China.

Development Zones

Dalian’s main development zones include:

Dalian Economic and Technological Development Area

The Dalian Development Area (DDA), located in Jinzhou District, is a state-level economic and technological development area founded by the government in 1984. With a solid industrial foundation and a comprehensive supply chain, the DDA has attracted more than 2,300 FIEs. Major industries include petrochemical, automobile & components, equipment manufacturing and light industry.

The Dalian Bonded Area

The largest boned zone in China, the Dalian bonded zone, with an area of 251 square kilometers, was established in 1992. The zone is located alongside the Yellow Sea Coast and consists of the Dayao Bay Bonded Port Area, Bonded Zone, Dalian Export Processing A Zone, Shipping Center, and the Dalian Automotive Logistics Park. Major industrial clusters in the DFTZ include processing, trade, related logistics and warehousing.

Preferential tax and bonding policies exist in the Dalian Bonded Zone. Goods imported into the DFTZ are exempt from import tariffs and import linkage tax if the goods consist of one of the following:

Machinery, equipment and other construction materials used in productive infrastructure construction;

Production and management equipment for the enterprises are established within the zone; or,

A reasonable quantity of office supplies and maintenance parts to be used by the enterprise.

Eligible goods, such as raw materials, spare parts and other materials for processing export products, will be bonded within the DFTZ. Further, transit goods and goods stored in the DFTZ will be treated as bonded goods.

Dalian Jinpu New Area

The Dalian Jinpu New Area is the only new area approved by the central government located in Liaoning Province. Established in 2014, the Jinpu New Area sprawls over 2,300 square kilometers, and features over 20,000 businesses, including nearly 100 foreign-funded enterprises. Automobile production, bonded logistics and equipment manufacturing industries are present in the area, and there are specialized port terminals for receiving ore, oil, grain and containers. The area’s import and export volume accounts for 42% percent of the total in Liaoning Province.

Dalian Puwan New Area

The Dalian Puwan New Area (administratively under Jinpu New Area) was established in 2010, and its main industries include auto parts, marine equipment, fine chemicals and electric power equipment as well as garment and food processing. The area measures 3,350 square kilometers and occupies over 130 kilometers of coastline. China, Puwan is noteworthy for introducing a streamlined administrative process to serve enterprises more efficiently.

Dalian and Oakland Sister City Relationship

Dalian has had a sister-city relationship with Oakland since 1982. The program facilitates a variety of cultural exchange activities between the two cities. Most recently, Mayor of Oakland Libby Schaaf led a Trade and Culture Mission to Dalian in July 2019, meeting with the Dalian Sister City Association, the Dalian Department of Education, the Port of Dalian, the Dalian Department of Culture and Tourism, as well as with the Mayor of Dalian.

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