Ningbo plans to establish itself as the third-largest port in the world by 2010, with a cargo handling capacity of 360 million tons, a jump of 90 million tons from the present capacity, Mayor Mao Guanglie said.
To take advantage of the port's growing sway, the city is also building an international trade market.
Mao has an acute sense of the opportunities his city, which is in East China's Zhejiang Province just south of Shanghai, can take advantage of.
"Ningbo's largest resource and advantage for further development is its port," Mao said in an exclusive interview with China Daily.
Late last year, Ningbo and Zhoushan ports - China's two major deep-water ports - officially merged to become one entity and adopted the name "Ningbo-Zhoushan Port."
This happened after the authorities realized that the pair, while operating under different administrations, had no co-ordinated planning and both undermined each other's competitiveness.
"The use of a joint name signals the integration of the two ports, which have been making solid progress," said Mao, whose municipal government is the co-organizer of the China Daily CEO Roundtable International Summit on Yangtze River Delta Development that opens today.
"The integration is of great strategic significance in furthering our advantage as an important deep-water port in East China, speeding up the integration of resources in Ningbo and neighbouring Zhoushan, and will better serve the economic growth of Zhejiang Province, the Yangtze River Delta and the whole country," he added.
The municipal government plans to set up an "E-port platform" in the coming years in a bid to lower the port's running costs.
It also plan to build an industrial zone for logistics and promote better interaction between the zone and the port in addition to sharing information and resources with Zhoushan.
"Ningbo-Zhoushan Port will become an important international deep-water hub for major cargo shipping," Mao said.
The city is also doing its utmost to build an international trade mart.
"The combination of the mart and the strong port capacity will help Ningbo regain the position as the point of departure for 'the Silk Road of the sea,'" said Mao.
The mart, one of the city's major projects in its 11th Five-Year Plan period (2006-10), aims to gather international buyers, build trade channels between traders and manufacturers, and provide trade information and other related services, such as logistics.
Specifically, the mart will include nine centres: an exhibition centre for imports and exports, a trading centre for importing bulk goods and a business centre for international trade information.
There will also be an integrated transport and logistics services centre, a financial settlement centre, a international trade service centre, an international conference centre and a centre for skilled international traders.
"It will not only sell products made in Ningbo, but will also serve as a market for Zhejiang Province and the whole Yangtze River Delta," said Mao.
The trade mart will greatly reduce transaction costs for importers and exporters.
As a major international trading platform, it will help foreign buyers increase efficiency in finding suppliers at lower costs.
Manufacturers will be able to make contact with more buyers in the mart and receive quick responses to market demand.
As part of the project, the exhibition centre began its trial operation during the 5th China International Consumer Goods Fair, which began yesterday.
It will have its official opening by the end of this year.
With a total investment of over 400 million yuan (US$50 million), the centre has an area of 78,000 square metres.
It can accommodate at least 1,400 standard booths.
The major goods on display will be electronics, which will help Ningbo become the largest export port for electronics in the country.
Talking about the summit, Mao said it would establish an effective platform for communication and co-operation between China and other countries, further increasing the influence and prestige of the delta.
Source: China Daily