City promotion convention vows to improve business and living environment for investors
As the fourth China International Import Expo (CIIE) is welcoming guests from around the world to Shanghai, the local government will showcase the city's openness and introduce the changes and progress of its business environment.
With the theme, "Embracing the CIIE, Sharing a Future," the 2021 Shanghai City Promotion Convention is scheduled to be held at the Shanghai Center today.
The event will be virtual and offline attended by representatives from multinational, state-owned and private enterprises, professional service providers, foreign consulates in Shanghai, international organizations and investment promotion agencies.
Hard power makes a city powerful, while soft power makes a city great. A highlight of this year's convention is Shanghai's ambition and efforts to enhance its urban soft power on its way to become a socialistic metropolis with global influence by 2035, according to the authorities.
City leaders will once again reaffirm Shanghai's confidence and determination in building a better business and living environment for global investors, the high-level of reform and opening up in Pudong New Area and the implementation of favorable policies and measures in key areas such as Hongqiao Business District and the Lingang Special Area of China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone.
The conference has also invited international organizations and institutions to express their expectations for the future development of Shanghai via recorded video messages.
The Division on Investment and Enterprise of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, for instance, will share ideas on investment trends throughout the world and the economic attractiveness of China, Shanghai in particular.
Foreigners working and living in Shanghai are also invited to share their stories of the city.
DPARK Foreign-related Economic, Innovative & Culture Park, founded by Antonio Duarte, a renowned French industrialist who has been honored with the Shanghai Magnolia Award, thinks highly of the city's efforts on foreign investment.
"China's business environment, especially in Shanghai, is becoming more and more open and inclusive, and foreign capital is treated nationally," an official from the park said.
Government services are becoming more efficient and transparent, and the business registration processing time has been greatly reduced, he added.
Accenture, a global professional services company which has based its China headquarters in Shanghai, said it has been expanding its footprint at a faster pace over the past two years.
Its China team now has around 19,000 employees.
Global toy giant Lego Group, a four-time participant at CIIE, said it will cover more than 80 Chinese cities with 300 retail stores by the end of this year.
The confidence is lifted by China's efforts to improve its business environment and enhance intellectual property rights protection, according to Clothilde Yang, senior director of government & public affairs, Lego Toy (Shanghai) Co Ltd.
Thanks to its strong economic resilience and the facilitation of CIIE, Shanghai remains a top investment choice for foreign businesses, according to local authorities.
With the strong spillover effects of the CIIE, the city has enjoyed a good momentum in utilizing foreign capital since the beginning of this year, said Zhu Yi, vice chairwoman of the Shanghai Commission of Commerce.
From January to September, a total of 5,136 foreign-funded enterprises were newly established, up 27.1 percent from a year earlier.
The foreign capital actually used was US$17.84 billion, up 15 percent year on year and 22 percent compared with the same period in 2019.
A total of 47 regional headquarters of foreign-funded multinational companies and 20 foreign-funded research and development (R&D) centers were established in Shanghai in the first nine months, raising their total numbers to 818 and 501, according to Zhu.
Compiled by the Shanghai Foreign Investment Development Board, a fresh investment map and navigation of the city's foreign investment landscape was recently released.
Foreign investors can get a glimpse of the city's latest investment policies for eight key industrial sectors including financial services, new consumption and technological innovation with the help of the map, said Xue Feng, president of the foreign investment board.
Launched for the first time this year, the Navigation of Shanghai's Foreign Investment Landscape focuses on the city's regulations on foreign investment, and displays all-round information on foreign investment promotion, investment protection, investment management and services in map language.
To build a more sound business environment, Shanghai approved regulations on foreign investment last year, which vows further opening-up, optimized procedures of the reporting mechanism and one-stop service system for major foreign-funded projects.
In addition to showing the layout of multinational headquarters and their R&D centers in Shanghai for the first time, the navigation also displays the city's support services for foreign investment as well as investment hot spots and new investment opportunities during the "14th Five-Year Plan" period (2021-2025), Xue added.
"What foreigners value most is our unique transportation system," said Li Li, director of Minhang District Investment Promotion Center. "You know, business people travel a lot."
As the city's gateway to the Yangtze River Delta, Minhang District looks like a "golden key" on Shanghai's geographical map.
Thanks to its developed transportation network, strong industrial facilities, rich culture and a reservoir of technology talent, the district attracted more than 39,000 firms in the past year, which contributed to around 1.48 billion yuan (US$230 million) of its taxation, Li noted in an interview with Shanghai Daily.
As a platform for companies from all over the world to showcase themselves and interact with each other, CIIE has proved to be a great facilitator for foreign investment.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the third international import expo was held as scheduled, with a cumulative turnover of US$72.62 billion (if calculated by one year), an increase of 2.1 percent over the previous session.
Among the Fortune 500 companies present at last year's exhibition, more than 70 percent have joined the CIIE more than once and a group of exhibitors signed up on the spot to invest in Shanghai and China during the event.
The return rate is expected to be more than 80 percent this year, according to the organizer.
The first and second CIIE were reported to have ended with intended deals worth more than US$57.8 billion and US$71.1 billion.