Shanghai issues new economic development guidelines

Shanghai wants to attract more giants and startups, on route to the creation of world-leading marketplaces for data, commodities and talent.

Photo from CFP

Photo from CFP

By LIU Sunan, ZHOU Shuyi


Shanghai has issued new economic development guidelines for the city’s economic development. The new vision for the future of Shanghai identifies five areas for improvement.

Despite years of opening up, the economy needs to be even more open. Plenty of room remains for a more innovative approach, fostering an environment that serves businesses better. The city wants to attract more giants and startups, on route to the creation of world-leading marketplaces for data, commodities and talent.

Here is a closer look into what the city intends to do.

Support for technology development

The key to this kind of development is funding. The metropolis plans to explore and create more innovative funding mechanisms to bring about further technological breakthroughs. City authorities plan to work with universities to take fundamental research results and transform them into practical business ideas. The plan includes support extending as far as up-and-running start-ups. State-run research institutions are to be run more like private companies with fresh ideas in terms of budgets, performance assessment and employee compensation.

Become a more important financial and shipping center

Shanghai already has an excellent reputation as a global financial center and wishes to build on that foundation to become an oil and gas trading hub. This requires building a strong asset management sector and expanding the fledgling carbon market.

It also aims to become a more important global shipping center. On May 31, a Danish ship took 27 containers from Vancouver at Shanghai’s Yangshan Port on its way to Tianjin, the first case under a pilot program that allows foreign ships to relay international cargo between Chinese ports. All such ships will go through Shanghai at the pilot stage.

Already a global shipping center, the city will explore new regulatory methods to offer something more to companies that are already prominent in trade and shipping. It will adopt a sandbox approach to testing new policies. Trials are to be conducted on a small scale and be more widely implemented if found to be successful. There will be new measures intended to make business licensing easier and to simplify cross-border money transfers for overseas companies.

Attract more headquarters

Shanghai will do all it can to encourage even more multinational corporations to open offices, set up new functions and even put their regional headquarters in the city. Particularly, it wants to attract more domestic giants and help them expand overseas by building better financial and administrative infrastructure.

Large tech companies, the guidelines say, will be helped to open labs and research centers. These facilities will in turn lead to more tech startups in the area.

Further open up trade through pilot programs and free trade zones

Shanghai is to take a prominent role in the building of a uniform national market. The city is to do what it can to further open up international trade through pilot programs and more free trade zones. In particular, laws, regulations and customs procedures need to catch up with entrepôt trade – the cases in which China imports raw materials and exports processed goods. There is a clear need to strengthen current laws on international trade, investment and intellectual property protection.

Attract more talent and make itself a data hub

For those who have studied and worked abroad, Shanghai will make it easier for them to settle here, find jobs and even start their own companies. More overseas degrees and certificates will be recognized. The city plans to make it easier to bring money and other types of assets from abroad, making life easier for those who intend to found their own businesses.

Shanghai has already set up a digital system to help large companies aggregate and manage their financial, logistical and human resource data. The system will expand the use of digital currencies and will require upgrades and digitization of the customs system in the name of creating a hub for shipping data. In addition, Shanghai will expand and upgrade the current network of roads, warehouses and clearing houses to build a commodity trading powerhouse.

More events, both virtual and in-person, will take place to promote collaborations among global science institutions.

The guidelines also mentioned plans to open up and share resources on scientific research, promote cross-border e-commerce, facilitate international shipping, and incubate innovative start-ups.