Forum sees confidence in city's green shift

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, October 8, 2022
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Lujiazui, the financial center in Shanghai, forms a perfect backdrop to the Bund area. [Photo/Xinhua]

Representatives of leading multinational corporations expressed confidence in Shanghai's economic resilience and green development at the International Business Leaders' Advisory Council for the Mayor of Shanghai forum on Friday.

The IBLAC forum, an annual pageant that has served as a conduit for communication between international business and Shanghai's mayors since 1989, was held for the 34th time this year. The theme was "green, low-carbon development and urban sustainability." About 40 senior executives from 16 countries and regions joined the forum online.

Attending executives had words of praise for the Chinese business environment and that of Shanghai specifically. World-leading insurer Allianz is optimistic about China's development in the long run despite global uncertainties at present, according to Oliver Baete, CEO of Allianz SE. He added that Allianz has witnessed "enormous growth" in the Chinese financial market over the past decades, which has facilitated foreign companies' access to the country. He also added that the Shanghai municipal government is "especially welcoming" to foreign investment, and alongside the large number of leading universities domiciled in the city makes it uniquely conducive to multinational corporate activity.

Allianz has nurtured a series of environmental, social and governance investment plans in China, especially in Shanghai. Its asset management arm teamed up with business partners to release an ESG product earlier this year, the initial scale of which came in at 2 billion yuan ($281 million). Allianz is also building up onshore funds in China to extend sustainable investment opportunities in the country, Baete said.

Baete's words were echoed by others at the meeting, such as Martina Merz, CEO of German multinational conglomerate ThyssenKrupp AG, who remarked that, as home to a variety of world-leading enterprises, scientific research institutions and high-end talents, Shanghai has the ability to play an important role in China's green transformation.

Merz pointed to green hydrogen — a product ThyssenKrupp has backed heavily — as one possible way for Shanghai to achieve low-carbon, sustainable development, adding that Shanghai's rich reserves of wind power, well-equipped ports and all-encompassing industrial chains provide advantages in production, shipping and application scenarios for green hydrogen.

According to an action plan released by the municipal government in early July, Shanghai will see the total value of its green industry exceed 500 billion yuan by 2025, and at least 200 green manufacturing companies will be located in the city.

Swiss healthcare giant Roche — the first foreign company to settle down in Zhangjiang High-tech Park in Shanghai's Pudong New Area — has kept abreast with Shanghai's green goals, according to Vivian Bian, CEO of Roche Pharmaceuticals China. She pointed out that, over the past five years, Roche's Zhangjiang facility has reduced total energy consumption by 30 percent, and water consumption by 44 percent.

Roche will increase its working capital in China this year by 250 million yuan, said Bian. The company also granted its innovation center in Shanghai independent decision-making capacity over new drug research and early development this year, making the city an important part of the company's overall strategy. The moves also highlighted Roche's confidence in the wider Chinese market, she said.

Shanghai, long a hub of international business, has been extending its gravitational pull. A total of 26 multinationals set up regional headquarters in the city in the first half of this year, bringing the total number of corporate headquarters to 857. Another 10 multinationals set up regional R&D centers in the same period, making Shanghai home to 516 such centers.

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