Mayor vows to further improve Shanghai's business environment

Huang Yixuan
Shanghai is committed to improving the city's business environment to attract foreign investment and companies, Mayor Gong Zheng tells a meeting of global business leaders.
Huang Yixuan

Shanghai is committed to improving its business environment to attract foreign investment and companies, putting into effect some measures derived from the suggestions put forward by global business leaders at IBLAC sessions, according to Mayor Gong Zheng.

At the 35th International Business Leaders' Advisory Council (IBLAC) meeting on Sunday, Gong took the stage to provide an overview of Shanghai's economic and social development, highlighting the city's resilience, stable growth, and commitment to high-quality development.

Despite the challenges faced amidst the global pandemic, Shanghai's economy has demonstrated remarkable resilience and vitality. The city has focused on stability and progress, deepening high-level reform, and opening up to promote sustained economic growth.

Major economic indicators, including fixed asset investment, private investment, and industrial investment, have all achieved double-digit growth in the first three quarters. The consumer market has fully recovered, experiencing an over 10 percent increase in total retail sales of consumer goods. The cultural and tourism market has also rebounded, reaching the same level as in 2019.

Gong emphasized the city's efforts to transition from old to new driving forces, accelerating the construction of a modern industrial system supported by the real economy.

Shanghai has been prioritizing the development of strategic emerging industries such as integrated circuits, biomedicine, and artificial intelligence, and these industries have showcased significant growth, contributing to the city's overall economic progress. Emerging sectors like new energy vehicles, new energy, and high-end equipment have also seen substantial development, boasting double-digit growth in output value.

Reform and opening up have been crucial pillars of Shanghai's development strategy, he pointed out. The city has been actively upgrading its "five centers" and spearheading comprehensive reform piloting in the Pudong New Area.

Utilizing open platforms such as the Shanghai Free Trade Zone and the Lingang Special Area, Shanghai has seen a surge in regional headquarters as well as research and development centers of multinational corporations. So far this year, 49 regional headquarters and 20 foreign-funded R&D centers have been established, bringing the cumulative numbers to 940 and 551, respectively, further confirming the city as a preferred destination for foreign investment and global industrial chain layout.

Mayor vows to further improve Shanghai's business environment
Zhang Chi / Ti Gong

While focusing on economic development, Shanghai remains dedicated to improving people's well-being. It has seen rapid growth in per capita disposable income and the creation of new jobs. Initiatives such as urban renewal have been accelerated, with numerous urban village renovation projects under way. Additionally, efforts to enhance the ecological environment have resulted in the addition of 95 new parks and an increased air quality index for good air quality.

Shanghai's achievements are a testament to the city's solid foundation, favorable conditions, and strong confidence in sustained improvement. Despite challenges, its commitment to stability, progress, and high-quality development has earned the trust of global investors and positioned Shanghai for even more remarkable results.

"We have a solid foundation, favorable conditions, and the confidence to promote sustained improvement in economic performance, enhance internal driving forces, continuously improve social expectations, and resolve risks and hazards. We will strive to achieve the goals and tasks of economic and social development for the whole year and aim for even better results," Gong stated.

Looking ahead, Shanghai pledged to enhance its business environment and attract more foreign investment and companies. It will utilize the World Bank's new business environment assessment system as a guide, deepening benchmark reforms and implementing key measures to facilitate the continuous improvement of the business environment.

The mayor emphasized the need to deepen market-oriented reforms and unleash the vitality of market entities. By removing institutional and mechanistic barriers and leveraging the decisive role of the market in resource allocation, the city aims to stimulate the vibrancy of various types of entities, including foreign-invested enterprises.

Two key focuses will be reducing entry barriers and operating costs for enterprises, along with optimizing enterprise services.

Shanghai will fully implement the revised Catalogue of Encouraged Industries for Foreign Investment and the Negative List to ensure consistency between domestic and foreign investment. It will strengthen support for foreign investment and companies in areas such as finance, taxation, personnel exchanges, and import and export.

Meanwhile, the optimization of enterprise services will be achieved through digital empowerment and the online platform offering one-stop government services, aiming to enhance convenience for businesses.

Shanghai also aims to create a fair, stable, and predictable legal environment. The comprehensive incorporation of government operations into the rule of law will be prioritized, enhancing the fairness and stability of the business environment.

The Regulation on Optimizing the Business Environment is currently being revised, and is expected to be implemented at the beginning of next year, to establish a more comprehensive system. Also, fair and equitable regulations will be promoted to protect the rights and interests of market entities, including foreign-invested enterprises, in accordance with the Foreign Investment Law.

Gong also stressed the importance of expanding opening up and aligning with international high-standard economic and trade rules. The city's advantage lies in its openness, and this advantage must be further capitalized upon to optimize the business environment, he said.

Specifically, efforts will be centered around the acceleration of construction in the "five centers" and deepening the comprehensive pilot reforms in Pudong. High-level institution-based opening will be promoted in the FTZ and Lingang area, making strides in trade in goods, trade in services, digital trade, and investment liberalization and facilitation.

In line with President Xi Jinping's initiatives, Shanghai is implementing the "Silk Road e-commerce" cooperation pilot zone, to further enhance trade connectivity, facilitating cross-border e-commerce and promoting digital trade. It also seeks to establish a national pilot zone for innovative development of trade in services.

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