Global consultancies upbeat on Shanghai business opportunities
Global consulting firms have applauded Shanghai's persistent efforts in optimizing its business environment for international investment and are looking forward to thriving development ahead as they remain confident that the city's effective reform measures will continue to boost confidence among overseas investors and enable them to conduct businesses on a level playing field.
EY, a world-leading professional consulting services provider which will celebrate its 55th anniversary in China next year, noted that the city has forged a unique path in cultivating and optimizing the business environment.
"Shanghai has made many breakthroughs and introduced a number of innovative new policies when it comes to business environment optimization," Patricia Xia, EY China Central Managing Partner, told Shanghai Daily.
"Shanghai, as a flagship city in China, has made significant improvement in the 10 major indicators of the World Bank's 'Doing Business 2020' assessment report, such as dealing with construction permits, protecting minority investors, resolving insolvency, trading across borders, tax administrations, etc."
Operating from the Pudong New Area for more than 10 years, the multinational professional network noted particularly that it truly appreciates the effort made by the Pudong government to optimize the business environment which serves as a role model among domestic cities.
Since 2010, when EY relocated and expanded its Shanghai office to Pudong's Lujiazui Financial Center, it has trained more than 50,000 professionals and hired nearly 7,000 new employees from campus recruitment with more than tripled revenue, a firm evidence of thriving business thanks to the government's guidance and Shanghai's economic boom, the company said.
With China being one of its fastest growing markets globally, the company remains committed to investing further in the country with the opening of a new office in September.
"The opening of our Ningbo office reflects our confidence in expanding our presence in the Yangtze River Delta region as well as our resolution to stay deeply rooted in the local market," Xia said.
"EY will continue to leverage Shanghai's leading position in the region and synergize the business development of our offices in the city and neighboring areas to explore new opportunities in the integrated high-quality development of the region with special focus on regional economy development, innovation and digital strategy, sustainable development and SOE reform."
For global property adviser CBRE, which landed its China headquarters in Shanghai in 2018, its confidence in the continuous improvement of Shanghai's business environment and opening-up also remains unwavering.
"Shanghai has always been at the forefront of China's opening-up and business environment improvement," said Alan Li, president of CBRE China. "The city's sound service system and investment environment for foreign-funded enterprises have fueled the high-quality development of our professional real estate consulting services."
Despite travel restrictions in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CBRE continues to help foreign companies in landing local headquarters, setting up research and development facilities and manufacturing plants, and to assist foreign brands in opening flagship stores around the country.
Thanks to financial opening-up and manufacturing upgrade, the company's business has been especially active in industries, including pharmaceutical and life sciences, advanced manufacturing, finance, professional services, and consumer goods.
"Encouraged by the healthy business growth over the past few years, we continue to step up local investment with the opening of a new branch in Nanjing, and expansion of offices in Zhengzhou, Beijing and Hangzhou last year," Li pointed out. "Now we are preparing for the office expansion in Shanghai and Shenzhen."
The same positive trend can be seen in the commercial real estate sector where CBRE has been one of the major international players.
The company, which led commercial real estate investment sales activity on the Chinese mainland in the first half of 2022, according to MSCI Real Capital Anlaystics, said that Shanghai's en-bloc property transactions totaled about 40 billion yuan (US$5.51 billion) in the first six months, with foreign capital accounting for more than 30 percent of the total transaction volume – the latter figure the highest in the past three years.
Office leasing demand in Shanghai, a barometer of business activity, soared more than 270 percent during the July-September period from the previous quarter, the largest growth registered in the country.
"The CBRE 2022 China Investor Intentions Survey found that Shanghai is the favorite destination for real estate investors in China, and ranked second among cross-border investment destinations in the Asia Pacific region," Li said.
"Although some overseas investors held a cautious wait-and-see attitude at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic due to the economic uncertainty caused by control measures, geopolitical and other reasons, their confidence has been increasing along with restored business activities and gradual economic recovery."
Similar optimism in continuously expanding local presence is also echoed by global consulting giant Accenture.
The Irish professional services firm based in Dublin, specializing in information technology services and consulting, has been expanding its China business at a faster pace, with some 5,000 employees being added over the past three years to its China team which currently stands at around 20,000.
The company, which started its China operation 35 years ago and also has its China headquarters in Shanghai, has signed up for next month's 5th China International Import Expo for the third year in a row, sending a strong vote of confidence in doing business in China.
Committed to working with Chinese enterprises, eco-partners, and government to drive digital transformation and sustainable development of Chinese enterprises and build business to last, Accenture will showcase digital technology applied in scenarios and demonstrate business model innovation cases at this year's CIIE from four themes: Enterprise Metaverse, Future Enterprises, Resilient Supply Chain and Sustainable Prosperity, aiming to provide new ideas for Chinese companies to achieve high-quality development through digital innovation.