No end to Shanghai's efforts to improve its business environment

"There is only 'the present tense' for Shanghai to make efforts for better business environment, and there will never be 'the perfect tense'." 

There will be no end to Shanghai's efforts to improve its business environment, senior government official Tang Zhiping said at a forum on Thursday.

“With a focus on the development of the city’s free trade zone, Shanghai will explore more ways to improve its business environment,” said Tang, the secretary general of the Shanghai government.

He was speaking at the Shanghai International Think Tank Summit hosted by the Development Research Center of the local government.

“There is only ‘the present tense’ for Shanghai to make efforts for better business environment, and there will never be ‘the perfect tense’,” Tang said.

The city’s determination and practises have been recognized by market watchers. 

In November, the World Bank released its latest global assessment of business environments, and China now ranks 46 out of the 190 countries and regions, up from 78 last year. 

Among the sub-indexes, the bank gives Shanghai a weighting of 55 percent and Beijing 45 percent for their contributions.

Shanghai has made remarkable progress in developing an international, law-based and convenient business environment. The number of procedures required to start a business in the city has been cut to four from seven and the processing time shortened from 22 days to nine.

From January to September this year, a total of 307,811 market entities were set up in the city, up 13.9 percent year on year. On average 1,333.5 new enterprises were set up each day, an increase of 13 percent year on year.

Also, the city waived 324.8 billion yuan (US$47.3 billion) of corporate taxes in the past six years after it shifted to collect value-added taxes.

“Shanghai’s and China’s success is no small accomplishment,” Marcin Piatkowski, senior economist of the World Bank, said at the forum. “The reforms should not stop, especially as global competition is far from being asleep at the wheel.”

In Piatkowski’s opinion, Shanghai can continue to digitalize the procedure of giving business permits while developing a better system to control risks.

“In some other cities, entrepreneurs can register a company with simply a smartphone,” said Piatkowski.

Yvonne Zhou, partner and managing director at the Boston Consulting Group China, said Shanghai needs to parallel itself with the best global cities when considering further room for improvement in business environment.

Alex Xu, senior partner and vice president of Roland Berger China, said it is important for Shanghai to have a vision for investment in cutting-edge technologies, which helps to attract senior scientists and professionals.

“They are key to enhance the future competitiveness of the city,” Xu said.

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