Shanghai, one of the four municipalities under the direct administration of the central government, is located at the estuary of the Yangtze River with a total area of 6,340.5 square kilometers. It borders Jiangsu province and Zhejiang province in the west, Hangzhou Bay in the south and the East China Sea in the east.
With a pleasant northern subtropical maritime monsoon climate, the city enjoys four distinct seasons, generous sunshine and abundant rainfall every year. January is usually the coldest month with an average temperature of about 4 degrees Celsius. The hottest month is July, when the average temperature is about 28 degrees Celsius.
Shanghai is one of the largest cities in China by population. By the end of 2017, its population stood at 24.18 million, including 14.46 million permanent residents.
Over the past decades, Shanghai has been one of the fastest developing cities in the world. Its GDP reached 3.27 trillion yuan ($464.92 billion) in 2018，with continued expansion of the tertiary sector, which made up 69.9 percent of last year's GDP. Value added in primary industry dropped 6.9 percent to 10.44 billion yuan, while growth rates in secondary and tertiary industries were respectively 1.8 percent and 8.7 percent.
Since China’s reform and opening-up, foreign direct investment has continuously flowed into the city. In 2018, Shanghai approved 5,597 foreign direct invested projects, with contractual investment capital of $46.94 billion.
Foreign trade volume in the last year reached 3.4 trillion yuan, up 5.5 percent. Import volume was 2.03 trillion yuan, an increase of 6.4 percent, while export volume totaled 1.37 trillion yuan, rising 4.2 percent. By the end of 2017, the city was home to investors from 175 countries and regions and the headquarters of 625 transnational companies.
Shanghai is renowned for its booming economy. It is a commercial, financial, trade and shipping hub of the Chinese mainland as a result of the rapid growth of its various pillar industries.
Shanghai has built itself into an international financial center. Its financial market grew in 2017 with overall transactions hitting 1.4 quadrillion yuan ($ 220 trillion), more than 17 percent of the municipality's GDP. The city has a total of 1,537 registered financial institutions dealing in shares, bonds, futures, currencies, insurance, gold and foreign exchange. According to a report released by British commercial think-tank Z/Yen, Shanghai ranked sixth in the 2017 Global Financial Centers Index, up from thirteenth. The city has made great efforts to improve its financial infrastructure and regulatory environment.
The modern metropolis has long been an admirable destination for tourists from all over the world. In 2017, it welcomed a total of 873 million international visitors, 2.2 percent more than in the previous year. Value added in the tourism industry hit 188.82 billion yuan, an annual increase of 9.1 percent. Home to 220 star-class hotels, 1,578 travel agencies and 99 4A national scenic spots, Shanghai provides excellent tourism services. Popular attractions include the Shanghai Museum, the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall, the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, the Shanghai Grand Theater, Yuyuan Garden and the Bund Scenic Area.
Shanghai is one of the busiest container ports in the world and the shipping industry plays a major role in its growth. The city handled 40.23 million TEUs in 2017, up 8.3 percent. Cargo throughput reached 750 million tons, a growth rate of 6.9 percent. The shipping service sector, propelled by domestic and foreign markets, has also showed dynamic expansion. The city aims to become an international shipping center with a better market environment, modern logistics services and resource allocation capacity by 2020. To attract more investors and upgrade the shipping industry, the municipal authority has rolled out a series of guidelines and preferential policies in taxation and many other aspects.
Looking to grow into a global innovation center, Shanghai has continued to bolster its high-tech sectors through telecommunication equipment development and integrated circuit manufacturing. It also seeks to accelerate the artificial intelligence sector. According to a plan issued by the municipal government, Shanghai will work to expand the scale of the AI sector to more than 100 billion yuan by 2020. To aid this goal, the city is planning to set up ten AI public platforms and six demonstration zones and to attract more companies and entrepreneurs to its vibrant economy.
Shanghai, a city full of opportunities, is viewed as an ideal choice for overseas investment. With its superior advantages in geographical location, transportation, talent pools and living environment, Shanghai boasts great potential in investment.
Geographical location and transportation
Sitting on the edge of the estuary of the Yangtze River Delta, one of China’s major economic powerhouses, Shanghai enjoys a solid foundation for future growth. The coastal city also has convenient access to nearly 300 cities across the globe, which provides great advantages for its open economy. Connected to around 50 countries by air, it is regarded as one of the biggest transportation hubs in China and an important gateway connecting China to the world. The extensive networks of railways and expressways also link up this economic heavyweight with other major cities in China.
Shanghai has attached great importance to its pool of human resources and has made policies and regulations to promote talent cultivation. It is home to 64 higher education institutions and a number of prestigious universities, including Fudan University, Shanghai Jiaotong University and Tongji University, all seen as cradles of competitive talents. In the future, the proportion of Shanghai’s working age population is expected to reach over forty percent.
Free Trade Zone as a platform
The city is also a pioneer in building platforms for free trade and investment. The China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone (SHFTZ) was approved by the State Council on August 17, 2013 as the first pilot free trade zone in China. Since then it has carried out institutional reform and innovation in investment and foreign trade. In 2017, both its paid-in foreign investment and foreign trade volume account for over forty percent of the city’s totals.
Ideal living environment
Not only a good place for doing business, Shanghai is also a satisfying living environment for foreign entrepreneurs and investors. With growing public awareness, the city has invested in a series of environmental protection projects. Various parks and resorts also offer the residents pleasure and relaxation. Shanghai has one of the largest numbers of international schools in China and all public schools are open to children with foreign passports.
Investment promotion agencies
1. Shanghai Foreign Investment Promotion Center
Fax: 021-62368026, 62368024
2. Shanghai Association for Foreign Investment
Website: http://www.saefi.org.cn/ (Chinese)
3. Zhangjiang National Innovation Demonstration Zone
Address: No 36 Haiqu Road, Pudong New Area, Shanghai
4. China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone
Address: No 2001 Shiji Avenue, Pudong New Area, Shanghai
5. Invest in Fengxian
Website: https://www.fengxian.gov.cn/shfx/subtzfx/ (Chinese)