Bridge and port: The northbound travel and trade


In the vibrant nexus of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, a transformative movement in cross-border exchange and economic integration is unfolding, propelled by the facilitation of northbound travel for Macau and Hong Kong vehicles. This initiative has significantly augmented connectivity and fostered economic synergy within the region.

Since the implementation of the “northbound travel” policy in January 2023 for Macau and subsequently in July 2023 for Hong Kong, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Zhuhai Port has witnessed a staggering influx of over 2 million vehicles. This increase is attributed to streamlined application processes and the convenience of travel, with daily clearance volumes reaching nearly 4,000 for Macau vehicles and over 3,200 for Hong Kong vehicles. During weekends and holidays, these figures soar above 10,000 vehicles, highlighting the predominance of single-plated vehicles from these areas in the mainland’s inbound traffic.

This surge in vehicular movement has been mirrored by unprecedented traffic volumes at Zhuhai Port, recording over 5.58 million passengers and 1.08 million vehicles this year alone. The port’s capacity to accommodate the highest single-day vehicle volume of 18,200 shows its strategic importance as one of China’s leading ports.

The Hengqin Port’s phase two has ushered in a new era of customs clearance efficiency through a Guangdong-Macau joint one-stop system, significantly simplifying the process. This innovation has enabled over 1 million vehicle clearances since its partial opening in September 2023, streamlining the commute for Macau residents. In fact, since September 26, over 660,000 Macau single-plate vehicles have passed through Hengqin Port, accounting for approximately 66.5% of the total vehicle clearances.

The deputy director of the Hengqin Border Inspection Station highlighted efforts to enhance traffic management and emergency response mechanisms, ultimately doubling the vehicle customs clearance capacity. This has significantly improved the efficiency of handling approximately 16,000 vehicles per day.

“It’s much faster to pass the customs now than before.” Ms. Zhao, a Macau resident living in Hengqin, told this week to GDToday that she used to have to go through the customs twice, but now it can be done once.

Parallel to the increase in vehicular traffic, trade through the Zhuhai checkpoint of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge has seen a notable rise, with imports and exports reaching RMB31.07 billion in just the first two months of 2024. This 24.8% year-on-year increase not only underscores the bridge’s crucial role in regional trade but also showcases the diversified nature of the exchanged goods, including construction materials, electric vehicles, and jewelry.

The economic implications of these developments are extensive, with growth seen across tourism, logistics, retail, and other sectors within the Greater Bay Area. For instance, Xiangzhou District has witnessed significant increases in tourism revenue and hospitality profits, indicative of the broader economic benefits stemming from improved connectivity.

Moreover, the facilitated movement of goods across the bridge has supported the construction industry and reflects the growing adoption of electric vehicles, signaling a shift towards sustainability. Additionally, the booming jewelry trade through the bridge underscores the region’s capability in handling high-value goods, further enriching the local economic landscape.

Collectively, the policies and infrastructural enhancements promoting “northbound travel” and trade across the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge are emblematic of a broader strategy for regional integration and economic advancement. By reducing barriers to mobility and trade, the Greater Bay Area is not only fostering closer regional ties but is also establishing itself as a dynamic hub of economic activity and innovation in Asia. 

Categories GBA Views