Shanghai to take leading role in further opening-up

The 2018 Lujiazui Forum opened in Shanghai Thursday.

Shanghai will take a leading role in the implementation of China’s latest measures to facilitate the country’s further opening up to the outside world, being the first city in response to the call of President Xi Jinping to reform the financial sector, Shanghai authorities at the Lujiazui Forum which opened on Thursday said.

The two-day Lujiazui forum sees more than 400 guests from home and abroad discussing “building Shanghai into an international financial center in a new era.”

“The People’s Bank of China has always supported Shanghai’s construction of a global financial center,” said Yi Gang, governor of China’s central bank, who delivered a keynote speech at the forum.

“The next step, the central bank will continue to encourage various trials of further opening up financial services in Shanghai,” Yi said. The trials will involve the internationalization of the yuan, free trade accounts at Shanghai's free trade zone, third-party payments, ratings and finance-related technologies.

Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong said the city will make the highest global standard as its benchmark to make Shanghai a global financial center.

Shanghai Party Secretary Li Qiang said the city will interact more with places in the Yangtze River Delta Region in providing better financial services. It is planned that the Shanghai Futures Exchange will partner with Zhejiang free trade zone to set up an oil transaction center for a multi-level oil trading market.

Shanghai has made great progress in further opening its financial industry after China called for extra efforts in reform and opening-up across various markets during the Boao Forum for Asia annual conference in April.

Willis Insurance Brokers Co, for instance, obtained approval from the Shanghai insurance regulator to expand its business scope right after the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission allowed more functions of its lower-ranked bureaus, making Willis the first insurance brokerage in China to get such an approval from a city bureau.

Last month, ICBC-AXA Life Co was given consent to establish an asset-management company — China’s first after further opening up its insurance industry.

Shanghai-based Bright Food Group signed an investment agreement in April with a French bank to jointly set up a consumer finance company. After its official establishment, it will become China’s first consumer finance firm involving investors from developed countries.

Allianz has decided to set up a wholly invested insurance firm in Shanghai, and is making related preparations thanks to the relaxed share caps for a foreign financial company.

According to the Shanghai Financial Service Office, Shanghai will make greater efforts, such as supporting foreign banks to set up both branches and sub-branches in the city, and encouraging domestic commercial banks to establish asset-management companies in Shanghai with foreign investors, with no cap for shares held by their partners.

Also, Shanghai will allow foreign securities, fund and futures firms to conduct business in brokerage and consultancy in the city, and expand the business scope for insurers while allowing foreign-controlled life insurance companies.

Shanghai will also help foreign innovative firms to launch depository receipts, expand the function of foreign exchange accounts, and launch the Shanghai-London stock connect within this year, according to the financial service office.

The city will also open the market for clearance of bank cards by allowing the entrance of non-banking payment companies into it, and relax the rules for foreign financial companies in doing credit ratings.

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