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Shanghai solidifies status as leading investment destination

By WANG YING in Shanghai | | Updated: 2024-02-28 00:14
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High-rises dominate the skyline on both sides of the Huangpu River in Shanghai. [Photo by Gao Erqiang/China Daily]

Shanghai solidified its position as a top investment destination for multinational corporations on Tuesday, as the municipal government certified 34 regional headquarters of multinational corporations and 17 research and development centers within the city, strengthening its appeal.

A total of 63 foreign investment projects, amounting to an impressive combined value of $6.47 billion, were successfully established, further highlighting Shanghai's significance in attracting foreign investments.

"In 2020, we decided to move our Asian headquarters from Singapore to Shanghai. I think it was a perfect decision that we have done, considering the business environment that we have in China and specifically in Shanghai," said Frederico Freire Jardim, president of Kraft Heinz Asia, during an interview ahead of a ceremony to certify the company's Asian headquarters on Tuesday. 

Kraft Heinz has undertaken numerous investments in the city, and in recent years, Shanghai has served as the central hub for managing all of the company's business and operations throughout Asia, Jardim added.

During the city's annual business working conference earlier this month, Hua Yuan, the vice-mayor of Shanghai, announced that the actual utilization of foreign direct investment in Shanghai had surpassed the $20 billion mark for the fourth consecutive year, reaching an impressive total of over $24 billion in 2023.

Foreign business executives attribute the steady and robust investment enthusiasm to the continuously improving business environment in Shanghai.

On the first working day of the Chinese New Year, which fell on Feb 18 this year, the municipal government of Shanghai unveiled its seventh edition action plan aimed at establishing a first-class international business environment.

"Being an international city, Shanghai has been spearheading a campaign in facilitating enterprises to expand business and continuously offering an environment of openness, impartiality and fairness over the years," said Zhao Guodong, general manager with Panasonic Information Systems (Shanghai) Co Ltd. 

According to Zhao, the company has been able to participate in a wide range of projects across the country since establishing a business presence in Shanghai two decades ago. 

"We can contribute advanced technology to take part in China's development, and such a trend is becoming more and more evident in recent years," Zhao added. 

Last year, 65 regional headquarters of multinational corporations and 30 foreign-funded research and development centers were established, resulting in a cumulative total of 956 multinational corporation headquarters and 561 foreign-funded R&D centers.

"In the past three years, we have continued to introduce dozens of multinational companies to Shanghai. They can explore emerging industries, establish new businesses and transform their existing management capabilities here," said Bi Shunjie, managing partner of EY China markets. 

Bi attributed these notable achievements to Shanghai's forward-looking industrial planning, which, he said, consistently identifies and adapts to future trends. Additionally, he noted that the exceptional government services provided by municipal and district departments, coupled with the world-class open business environment established by Shanghai, have further contributed to the city's appeal for multinational corporations.

Li Ling, the president of CBRE China, a prominent commercial real estate services and investment firm, expressed confidence in Shanghai's future, stating that "being one of CBRE's most important markets, we firmly believe that Shanghai will continue to achieve high-quality development at an accelerated pace".

Li confirmed that CBRE was certified as one of Shanghai's initial group of global partners for foreign investment promotion on Tuesday. With their global resources and localized professional team, CBRE is eager to actively collaborate with the government in attracting investments, fostering both the quality and efficiency of Shanghai and China's economic growth, and assisting domestic and international enterprises in establishing a strong presence in Shanghai and China on an expanded platform.

Jardim added: "(We are) super keen to keep our investments in the city, and keep our investments in China."

Regarding China's strong IT demand, Zhao added that there are plans to increase investment not only in Shanghai but also across China as a whole.

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