International business leaders meet again in Shanghai to share ideas for a better city
High-quality growth, the most-mentioned phrase during the Two Sessions, will keep guiding China's new route of development. As a bellwether city, Shanghai takes a model role in mapping out growth of high quality, and how to guide such growth is what we expect to hear from this month's IBLAC meeting.
New attendees and old friends are gathering in Shanghai, and will be meeting on Sunday with top officials for the first in-person assembly in three years as Shanghai seeks advice from top business minds and executives of the International Business Leaders' Advisory Council for the Mayor of Shanghai (IBLAC).
It is an initiative set up in 1989 by then Shanghai Mayor Zhu Rongji, who later became China's premier. As the annual event celebrates its 35th anniversary this year, it proves even more pivotal as the resilience of urban development, vitality and resilience become key issues.
The international thinktank for the Shanghai mayor started with 12 members from seven countries in the late 1980s. Its membership has expanded to more than 40 from 16 nations.
Three discussion panels will be held on Sunday under the theme of "Changes and New Opportunities: Making Shanghai a More Robust and Resilient International Metropolis."
City officials and department heads will be hearing new ideas on how Shanghai can pour resources to discover new opportunities amid technological revolution and industrial change, to leverage the advantages to bring out the potential, and to enhance competitiveness and attractiveness.
Executives from a wide range of industries including manufacturing, consumer goods, and health care, have high hopes for Shanghai to further unleash potential and advantages in terms of research resources, talent pools, as well as retail and digital infrastructure.
Overseas investors find Shanghai to be attractive and vibrant for new business opportunities.
In the first eight months, a total of 3,899 new foreign-invested enterprises were set up in Shanghai, an increase of 44.2 percent over the same period last year. The actual use of foreign capital amounted to US$15.899 billion.
Shanghai in 2021 was designated by the Ministry of Commerce as one of five key cities to become international consumption centers.
Local and national level officials have pointed out new consumption momentum shall be further encouraged especially in key areas like consumer goods, leisure activities, automobile, green economy and elderly care.
Severin Schwan, chairman of the Board of Directors of Roche Group, was full of praises that Shanghai has been a major hub for innovation. It remains a place where East and West can meet, where participants can openly exchange experiences, respectfully challenge each other, and learn from each other.
Looking back on his personal journey with the IBLAC, which dates back to 2009, he believes the annual event has had an important role in shaping China's development and opening-up story, which has offered unprecedented opportunities for companies from home and abroad.
Hubertus von Baumbach, chair of Board of Managing Directors and CEO of Boehringer Ingelheim, proposed to harness digital prowess to empower Shanghai's ambition of exploring cutting-edge innovations in health-care sector.
He put forward suggestions for three major areas: encouraging enterprises to transform into smart factories, establishing an approval and regulation system for digital therapeutics, and developing a robust data governance system.
Amidst the digital transformation journey, he notes that Shanghai is uniquely positioned to take proactive measures in promoting the development of smart factories with solid infrastructure and well-defined standards, as well as pioneering an unprecedented regulatory system tailored for digital therapeutics.
Jean-Paul Agon, chairman of L'Oréal Group, proposed Shanghai build into "A City for All," to better tap the city's limitless potential, strong vitality and world-class magnetism.
In his view, Shanghai will further unleash the consumption potential and develop it into a world-class consumer destination; nurture a thriving industry ecosystem, harness innovative potential, and build a global industry highland.
At the same time it will also respect diversity, and make Shanghai the destination of choice for young talent, foster social responsibility, live green values, and join hands with the public to create a beautiful, green home for all.
He added that the company will also continue to work with the Shanghai government and other stakeholders to support Shanghai in its journey toward becoming "A City for All" that embraces diversity, innovation, sustainable development and endless possibilities.
Michel Doukeris, global chief executive officer at Anheuser-Busch InBev, believes Shanghai could further shape its cultural identity and create iconic events to create new consumption opportunities.
He noted that Shanghai can undertake bolder, more innovative and creative projects that will not only satisfy the aspirations of China's increasingly discerning consumer population, but also chime perfectly with the broader national development strategy.
He points out that staging this kind of "hallmark events" would be beneficial for the city's vibrant identity, expanding its "soft power" as a renowned global hub for high-quality, prominent cultural experiences, and could also yield dividends for its international reputation for years to come.