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Integration essential for development

By Shi Jing in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2019-12-17 09:54
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A visitor looks at a model of an industrial logistics network made by Bosch during the second China International Import Expo in Shanghai on Nov 8. [Photo/Xinhua]

Cities in Yangtze River Delta to work together for higher-level opening-up

The Yangtze River Delta region, which accommodates one of the most economically vibrant urban agglomerations in China, will become a key conduit for the country's new round of opening-up, experts said.

At the beginning of December, a new master plan was unveiled by the central government to advance the integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta region. As the plan specifies, cities in this region should make joint efforts to promote opening-up at a higher level.

The China International Import Expo, which has been held in Shanghai for two consecutive years, should serve as an important gateway for companies in this region to explore more business opportunities in the world, according to the plan.

Tong Jisheng, chairman of Shanghai-based conglomerate Orient International (Holding) Co Ltd, said the company has helped to build the Hongqiao imported goods exhibition and trading center, which will allow exhibits at the CIIE to take priority when entering the trading center's bonded warehouse. This will help to build Shanghai into an import goods center that serves not only the Yangtze River Delta region, but also the rest of the country.

According to the recently released master plan, the 358,000-square-kilometer Yangtze River Delta region is about the same size as Germany and encompasses Shanghai and parts of Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Anhui provinces. The region accounts for a quarter of China's GDP and a third of foreign trade and investment.

Hu Jiangyun, director of the foreign economy research department at the Development Research Center of the State Council, said the Yangtze River Delta region should not only lead China's economic development, but more importantly become a role model globally in terms of coordinated development of an area.

"China's opening-up has entered a new stage, for which the Yangtze River Delta region should play a key role," he said.

According to Xu Hongcai, deputy director of the economic policy committee of the China Association of Policy Sciences, Shanghai has always been a pioneer regarding China's opening-up. Innovative efforts such as the free trade zone, which was first introduced in Shanghai, are now radiating out though the rest of the Yangtze River Delta region. Therefore, the neighboring cities should work even more closely with Shanghai to seek higher-quality development.

The Yangtze River Delta region should aim to build a first-rate business environment and a new high standard mechanism for opening-up.

To this end, innovation in human resources management should be introduced initially as this is a prerequisite of industrial upgrading and transformation, as well as for the development of modern high-tech industries.

In this sense, the household registration and social security systems in cities in the Yangtze River Delta region should be connected to facilitate the free flow of human capital, Xu suggested.

The integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta region, especially the smoother exchange of talents, is essential to German industrial giant Bosch's operations in China, said Chen Yudong, president of Bosch China.

About 75 percent of the annual turnover of Bosch China, which has its regional headquarters in Shanghai, is contributed by operations in the region, Chen said.

According to Chen, three-quarters of Bosch China's work force are based in this area. Among the 10,000-plus employees in its Suzhou factory, nearly half are engineers who frequently travel between Suzhou and Shanghai.

"As the development of the cities in this area will be further coordinated, it is our hope that there will be free flow of people, which will benefit companies of our kind," he said.

Shanghai has always been a stronghold for multinational companies in China. So far, a total of 710 multinational companies have set up their regional headquarters in Shanghai, while another 453 firms have built their R&D centers in the city, according to the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce.

The Shanghai facility of German heating and sun roof solutions provider Webasto now works as the company's regional management headquarters and R&D center.

Zhang Lihua, deputy president of Webasto Roof Systems China Ltd, said the production function of the Shanghai venue will be gradually moved to neighboring cities in the Yangtze River Delta region.

"Shanghai, working as a hub for both management and technology talents, is one of the major reasons for establishing the regional headquarters here," he said.

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