Moderna's swift progress highlights optimized business environment in Shanghai

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This photo taken on Dec. 20, 2023 shows the construction site of American biotech company Moderna's pharmaceutical plant in Shanghai, east China. [Photo/Xinhua]

It took American biotech company Moderna just over three months to start the construction of its first pharmaceutical plant in China following an investment agreement with Shanghai.

The "Moderna speed," even faster than that of Tesla's Shanghai Gigafactory, reflects how the Chinese economic powerhouse Shanghai has continued to optimize the business environment and stimulate the vitality of reform and opening up.

On July 5, Moderna signed a strategic cooperation agreement with the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Economy and Informatization and the Minhang district government.

As one of the world's leading mRNA vaccine developers, Moderna focuses on cancer immunotherapy, including mRNA-based medicine R&D and virus prevention technologies.

Moderna secured land for the China R&D and production headquarters project in Shanghai and obtained approval for the pile foundation work of the facility in October.

With an estimated investment of 3.6 billion yuan (about 507 million U.S. dollars), the project is by far the largest foreign investment in China's biomedical field. It covers an area of about 18 hectares in the Shanghai Xinzhuang Industry Park in Minhang District.

To facilitate the investment, Minhang has set up a special work team serving 24 hours a day to address issues with the investment. The team handled 45 requests from the U.S. side within two months, responding to them in as little as 30 minutes.

The city, district and industrial park all have a special work team, according to Tong Lingling, deputy general manager of Xinzhuang Industrial Zone Economic and Technological Development Co., Ltd.

"The teams at the three levels worked in coordination with each other and helped enterprises speed up the approval process," Tong said.

At a recent plenary session of the Shanghai Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China, the optimization of the business environment represented by "Moderna speed" has received widespread attention.

Participants at the session proposed improving the administrative approval process and strengthening services for enterprises to help materialize more projects as fast as that of Moderna to boost the Chinese economy.

A good business environment forms an important part of the core competitiveness of the city.

Gong Zheng, mayor of Shanghai, said that amid the complex external environment, Shanghai remains one of the most favored foreign investment destinations as well as one of the most popular destinations in the latest round of restructuring of the industrial and supply chain of multinational companies.

Over the years, Shanghai has worked consistently to create a world-class business environment that is market-oriented, law-based and internationalized, gradually turning the insights gained from the implementation of major projects into regular services.

From January to October this year, Shanghai's actual use of foreign investment has seen a positive growth year on year, reaching 20.77 billion U.S. dollars, official data showed.

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