Shanghai has made substantial progress in responding to the central government’s call for further opening-up, yielding fruitful results in the financial sector and the continued interest of foreign investors.
Thirty-two of the 100 detailed opening-up policies the municipal government announced on July 10 focus on the financial sector, in keeping with similar policies announced in April by Yi Gang, governor of the People’s Bank of China. The banking, securities and insurance sectors are all included.
The local authorities have quickened the pace of starting opening-up projects in Shanghai. To date, they have submitted 23 financial projects to the State Council and central financial regulators. Nine were approved and have already begun.
Insurer ICBC-AXA Life, in which France’s AXA, the world’s largest insurance group, holds a minority stake, obtained approval to set up an asset management company in Shanghai. BMCE Bank from Morocco, a participant in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, got a permit to set up a Shanghai branch.
Wu Qin, director of the off-site business department for foreign banks at the Shanghai branch of the China Banking Regulatory Commission, said the approval time for some foreign banks’ new businesses in Shanghai has been cut from three months to three weeks.
Yuan-denominated crude oil futures contracts, begun in Shanghai on March 26, have become the largest of their kind in transaction volume in Asia and the third largest in the world. A total of 52 global clients have taken part in the trading of such contracts.
Foreign investors’ interest in Shanghai remains unchanged despite the global economic uncertainties. According to the Shanghai Bureau of Statistics, newly signed contractual foreign investment in Shanghai surged by 18.1 percent in the first six months to reach $21.5 billion, with $8.6 billion already received.
Major overseas investment in Shanghai has remained stable. That from Hong Kong and Singapore rose respectively by 22.2 percent and 35.6 percent in the first half. Investment from European countries, with Germany and the Netherlands as leaders, surged by 42.2 percent. Despite the China-US trade frictions, US companies’ Shanghai investment fell only by 1.7 percent.
Overseas companies have shown consistent interest in setting up regional headquarters in Shanghai. Seventeen regional multinationals’ headquarters opened in Shanghai in the first half, seven of which are Asia-Pacific headquarters. That brings the total of multinationals regional headquarters in Shanghai to 642.
The city’s research and development capacity has also been highlighted. Eight new multinational companies’ R&D centers have settled in the city in the first half, bringing a total of 434 such centers.