For international traders who often do business with China, the most familiar places might not be the famous Beijing and Shanghai, but rather Guangzhou and Yiwu. Guangzhou is right in the area I’m about to tell you about—the Pearl River Delta.

This region is a powerhouse in foreign trade, consistently making up 20% of China’s total foreign trade throughout the year. Notable cities and ports like Shenzhen and Guangzhou are all part of the Pearl River Delta. Today, let’s take a closer look at this region. I believe understanding it will be beneficial whether you’re importing from China or exporting to China.

Where is the Pearl River Delta located in China?

PDR location
Located in the Pearl River Delta in southern China
the Pearl River estuary

The Pearl River Delta is situated in the southern part of Guangdong Province, China. The term “delta” refers to a river delta, which is a common type of plain formed by sediment deposition at a river mouth. As the name suggests, the Pearl River Delta is a plain formed by the sedimentation of the Pearl River, which is the second-largest river in China in terms of annual flow, following the Yangtze River.

Due to its location at the estuary of the Pearl River, the Pearl River Delta has a flat terrain and abundant water resources. This area has well-developed shipping routes, connecting various cities around it through rivers, contributing to a thriving commercial development.

PDR map

The Pearl River Delta includes nine cities in Guangdong Province: Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Huizhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen, and Zhaoqing. Nowadays, we sometimes equate the Pearl River Delta region with the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, which includes Hong Kong and Macau.

What products are produced in Pearl River Delta?

The light industry in the Pearl River Delta is highly developed, with products mainly including daily-use items such as toys, footwear, lighting fixtures, furniture, and clothing. In recent years, the proportion of heavy industry has been rapidly increasing, with a focus on developing manufacturing equipment, automotive, and petrochemical industries. The emerging high-tech industries like electronics, information equipment, and transportation are also growing rapidly.

The nine cities in the Pearl River Delta have their own unique industrial clusters. Here are some of the prominent products from the Pearl River Delta for your reference:


Guangzhou is one of China’s three major automobile manufacturing bases, producing over 3.13 million cars in 2022, ranking first in China. Well-known automakers like XPeng Motors and Guangzhou Automobile Group are concentrated here. Surrounding cities, including Foshan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Huizhou’s Daya Bay, mainly produce automobile components.

Electronic Information Products

vivo factory
Vivo Factory in the Pearl River Delta

The Pearl River Delta hosts well-established and densely packed electronic industry zones, primarily in Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Huizhou, and Dongguan. These cities have different roles in the electronic information industry: Dongguan and Huizhou mainly handle the production of electronic products and components, while Shenzhen and Guangzhou focus more on product promotion and sales.

These cities gather numerous manufacturers of electronic consumer goods like smartphones, TVs, and computers. The production of products such as 5G phones, communication equipment, and computers ranks at the forefront nationwide. Many renowned printed circuit board manufacturers are located here, such as SCC, Victory Giant Technology and FASTPRINT.

Electrical Machinery Products

electric towers

The electrical machinery and equipments Pearl River Delta mainly manufactures includes power transmission and transformation equipment, nuclear power generation equipment, transformers, motors, electronic control equipment, direct current power supplies, and distribution network equipment. This forms a large-scale industry cluster in cities like Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dongguan, Zhongshan, and Zhuhai.

Plastic Products

The annual output of plastic products in the Pearl River Delta exceeds tens of millions of tons, accounting for about 83% of Guangdong Province and approximately 1/8 of China’s total. Foshan produces nearly half of the plastic in the Pearl River Delta, focusing on civil plastic products such as pipes, foam, and films. Meanwhile, Shenzhen’s plastic industry is more oriented towards industrial support products, such as industrial parts or casing materials.

Home Appliances

Smart home appliances

The Pearl River Delta is home to numerous home appliance companies with a long history of development, large production scales, and many well-known brands. These companies are mainly located on the west bank of the Pearl River Delta, with Shunde Home Appliance City in Foshan being particularly well-known. In recent years, the rise of smart home appliance production areas is mainly distributed in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Foshan, Zhongshan, and Zhuhai.

Textile and Clothing Products

Guangdong Province has more than 20 clothing industry clusters, including underwear, children’s clothing, women’s clothing, woolen sweaters, and more. These are mainly distributed in the Pearl River Delta and the eastern part of Guangdong, with clothing production accounting for about 20% of China’s total. The variety of clothing is diverse, including denim, underwear, children’s wear, casual wear, and more.

Biopharmaceutical Products

Guangzhou Biomedical Industrial Park
Biopharmaceutical park in Guangzhou
The number and technological level of pharmaceutical parks in the Pearl River Delta rank in the top three in China, with the highest concentration in the cities of Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Zhuhai.


The Pearl River Delta is the most developed and concentrated region for China’s furniture industry, accounting for 70% of the country’s furniture production. Many of these products are exported to the American market.


The Pearl River Delta is a major producer of toys, contributing to 60% of the world’s total toy production. The variety of toys is vast, and the quality is high, mainly concentrated in cities like Shenzhen, Dongguan, Guangzhou, and Foshan. Skilled workers from around the world gather here, and many international brands choose to manufacture toys in this region.

To make it easier for you to understand, I’ve put together a table that lists the industrial chains that each city has, which can help you a lot, especially when you’re looking for a factory in China

GuangzhouAutomotivePetrochemical Manufacturing
Computer ElectronicsSmart Home Appliances
Electrical Machinery
ShenzhenComputer ElectronicsTextile and Apparel
Smart Home AppliancesAutomotive Parts
DongguanComputer ElectronicsPaper Products
Electrical MachineryToys
Textile and ApparelFurniture
Food and Beverages
HuizhouPetrochemical ManufacturingHousehold Appliances
Petrochemical Manufacturing
Computer Electronics
Household Appliances
Automotive Parts
ZhuhaiElectrical MachineryChemical Products
Electronic InformationPower Supply
Household AppliancesBiopharmaceuticals
FoshanHousehold AppliancesMetal Products
FurnitureAutomotive Parts
Textile and ApparelFood
Electrical MachineryPlastics
ZhongshanElectrical MachineryLighting
Household AppliancesComputer Electronics
Textile and ApparelGeneral Equipment
FurniturePlastic Products
JiangmenMetal ProductsPaper Printing
Electrical MachineryTextile and Apparel
FoodComputer Electronics
ZhaoqingTextile and ApparelMetal Products
Food and BeveragesHome Appliances
FurnitureElectrical Machinery
Building MaterialsComputer Electronics

What are the big ports in the Pearl River Delta?

The Pearl River Delta is home to major seaports, well-known ones being Guangzhou Port, Shenzhen Port, and Hong Kong Port. These ports have large docks, navigable channels, and comprehensive facilities, handling massive cargo throughput. Additionally, Zhuhai Port, Shantou Port, and Zhanjiang Port also boast significant capacities. There are also smaller ports serving regional trade, such as Foshan Port, Dongguan Port, and Huizhou Port.

pearl river delta ports

Guangzhou Port

Guangzhou has been a crucial port for China’s foreign trade for over a millennium. Today, Guangzhou Port connects to over 400 ports in 100 countries and regions, ranking fourth in the world for cargo throughput.

Guangzhou Port comprises both sea and inland ports, with the seaport including Inner Harbor, Huangpu Port, Xinsha Port, Nansha Port, and anchorage areas in the Pearl River Estuary. Unlike Shenzhen Port, Guangzhou Port not only excels in maritime transport but also has an advantage in domestic transportation. Products from Shenzhen Port often transit through Guangzhou Port to reach various parts of China more efficiently.

Shenzhen Port

Adjacent to Hong Kong, Shenzhen Port has eight port areas including Shekou, Chiwan, Mawan, Dongjiaotou, Yantian, Fuyong Airport, Shayuchong, and inland ports. Shekou, located in the west of Shenzhen, is one of China’s largest transshipment centers. Yantian, in the east, is the port with the highest throughput in Shenzhen, mainly shipping goods to Europe and the Americas.

Compared to Guangzhou Port, Shenzhen Port has advantages in channel efficiency and port maintenance cost. The eastern ports of Shenzhen, farther from the Pearl River Estuary, have deeper waters, avoiding issues of port shallowness. This results in higher navigation efficiency and lower maintenance costs.

Hong Kong Port

Victoria harbour
Victoria Harbour

With a port history of over a century, Hong Kong serves as the shipping center of the Far East, boasting the world’s busiest container port. Being one of the most open free trade ports globally, Hong Kong handles various special goods, such as electronics and liquid products. Except for four categories—alcohol, tobacco, hydrocarbons, and methanol—all other goods entering or leaving Hong Kong enjoy zero tariffs.

Among Hong Kong’s fifteen port areas, Victoria Harbour Area is the largest and best-equipped, with an average channel depth exceeding ten meters.

Zhuhai Port

Zhuhai Port, located on the west side of the Pearl River Estuary near Macau, is one of China’s major coastal ports, with a throughput exceeding a hundred million tons. Zhuhai Port has three sea ports and four inland port areas, with Gaolan Port as the main deep-water port, primarily transporting bulk materials like oil and gas chemicals.

How from small fishing villages to a megacity?

The Pearl River Delta is one of China’s largest manufacturing centers, gaining international recognition as a miracle that transformed from small fishing villages to a world-class city in just a few decades.

It’s hard to imagine that before 1980, the Pearl River Delta primarily focused on agriculture and fisheries, dotted with small, impoverished villages.

In 1980, China established the first four Special Economic Zones, including Shenzhen and Zhuhai in the Pearl River Delta.

These economic zones implemented special economic policies, actively developed foreign trade, and, with their advantageous coastal locations, support from the Chinese government, and the right timing for development, they started to rise, spurring rapid growth in surrounding Pearl River Delta cities.

Today, Shenzhen is a metropolis with over ten million people. It’s challenging to imagine that in 1980, its population was just over 50,000, and it was considered a backward fishing village.

Shenzhen in 1964
1964 Shenzhen
Shenzhen in 2015
2015 Shenzhen
Guangzhou in 1991
1991 Guangzhou Nan Street
Guangzhou in 2015
2015 Guangzhou Nan Street

Currently, the Pearl River Delta has been recognized by the World Bank as the world’s largest urban area, standing alongside the world’s four major bay areas: the New York Bay Area, San Francisco Bay Area, and Tokyo Bay Area. The completion of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge in 2018, a significant Chinese project spanning 55 kilometers, connected Hong Kong and Macao to mainland China, promoting the economic development of the entire Pearl River Delta urban cluster.

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge
Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge
Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge
Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge

The end

The Pearl River Delta is one of China’s three major economic zones. If you want to learn more about Chinese economic zones, feel free to let me know.
If you’re interested in importing from China, contact us at Jingsourcing. We’ve helped over 4,000 clients find the products and suppliers they need, providing advice and assistance throughout the entire procurement process.

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