Shanghai sets priorities for attracting investment

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Photo taken on April 15, 2017 shows an aerial night view of Shanghai, east China. [Photo/Xinhua]

Shanghai will keep introducing and implementing more opening-up policies as it continues to make a name for itself as a key global investment choice, according to municipal authorities.

The city will prioritize attracting foreign investors in the following three areas: those engaged in the services sector, those hosting regional/country headquarters, and those seeking to establish research and development sites, Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong said.

"Opening-up has always been Shanghai's biggest advantage. The city is rooted in it and thrives on such a premise," Ying said.

Ying, who was speaking on April 10 at a media briefing on Shanghai's high-quality growth, said the city's confirmed foreign capital reached $17.3 billion last year, accounting for 12.8 percent of the national total.

He said Shanghai is now home to some 50,000 overseas companies, the highest number of foreign firms among all cities on the Chinese mainland. These include 677 regional or country headquarters and 444 R&D centers.

While accounting for just 2 percent of all types of enterprises in the city, foreign enterprises have created one-fifth of all job opportunities, contributed to 27 percent of GDP and roughly one-third of tax income, made up 60 percent of industrial output and 65 percent of imports and exports.

To facilitate engagement between the government and foreign enterprises, the city also plans to host about 10 roundtable sessions this year with foreign companies, said Yang Chao, deputy director of the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce.

A list of renowned multinational corporations, including Johnson & Johnson, General Electric and Bosch, have or are on course to unveil innovation incubators in Shanghai, he added.

The city is a budding hot spot for attracting some of the world's iconic projects. For instance, Tesla's Gigafactory 3 recorded the largest single foreign investment Shanghai has ever received, whereas Shanghai Disney Resort marked the biggest ever joint venture in the services sector in China.

Meanwhile, there has been a shift in composition of the incoming investment. Europe led the growth pack in 2018, with the actual arrival of investment from the region standing at $2.8 billion, up 68.2 percent year-on-year. This was followed by strong growth by Singapore, which rose 47.6 percent to hit $1 billion.

Investment from Japan and the United States in 2018 dropped 17.1 percent and 16 percent from a year ago, respectively, registering $653 million and $465 million.

To date, authorities have implemented 93 points of the 100-point circular Shanghai municipal government introduced last year to liberalize capital markets and loosen investment rules, Ying said.

Ongoing liberalization of the financial sector has paved the way for the opening of ICBC-AXA Asset Management Co, China's first asset management company established via a joint venture.

"Shanghai's ambition to become a global financial center, its sound infrastructure, vast talent pool and strong government support have made the city 'the best choice' to host such a pioneering facility," said Ma Jian, chairman of ICBC-AXA, which is slated to open in the second half of this year. Ying also pledged to make the most of the China International Import Expo by making it bigger, better and more immersive.

Global professional service firm Deloitte is doubling the size of its booth at the expo this year with "more sufficient preparation and a larger-scale of investment", said Deloitte China Innovation Leader Dora Liu. "Our theme for this year's CIIE is 'Smart+'. We want to bring our latest solutions on smart city, smart healthcare and smart finance," she said.

Cosmetics giant L'Oreal is planning to offer online-to-offline interactions during this year's expo in a bid to explore new ways to "satisfy people's purchasing impulse as they visit the show", said Lan Zhenzhen, vice-president of L'Oreal China.

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