Shanghai's global dream takes shape

08:12, March 11, 2010      

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The municipal government's plan to transform Shanghai into an international trade center has got approval from the Ministry of Commerce, but still needs to get final clearance from the State Council, said sources familiar with the situation.

"Relevant documents, which were approved by the local government last year, have been submitted to the State Council for discussions, and may be cleared by the top authorities this year," the source told China Daily.

The central government gave the go-ahead last March to make the city a major international financial and shipping hub by 2020. That follows the pledge made in 2001 to make Shanghai an "international economic, financial, trade, and shipping center".

The municipal government wants to make Shanghai an international trade hub by 2020, offering better trading conditions for companies from China and the rest of the world, according to the source.

The submitted plan also includes setting up an exchange center for technology import and export, a product import center and duty-free stores within the city like Hong Kong, he said.

According to an official document from Shanghai's Pudong New District, the major tasks for this year are the setting up of the duty-free stores and charting plans for the Shanghai International Air Harbor Business Zone.

Tang Dengjie, Shanghai's vice-mayor, said on Wednesday at the Shanghai Commerce Work Conference that the local government would give top priority to speeding up work on the international trade center this year.

"We will also take steps to open the market further along with reforms that would foster international trade and improve the overall environment for commerce and trade," Tang said.

Developing e-commerce, commodity markets, and the construction of the Hongqiao Business District would also be part of the plan, he said.

Shanghai was among the cities that were selected for the yuan settlement pilot project last year. The trials enabled companies to make settlements with Hong Kong, Macao and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations in yuan.

"Free convertibility for yuan is essential for the city if it has to outshine peers in the global trade market. But, it is also something that would be difficult to achieve in the near term, as there are no plans to expand the basket of countries for the yuan settlement project in the near future," the source said.

The total value of Shanghai's imports and exports rose 43.6 percent to $26.2 billion in January this year from a year ago and accounted for 12.7 percent of the country's total trade.

"We are confident that the city would achieve 8 percent growth in foreign trade this year," said Tang.

The Pudong blueprint also includes the setting up of a business zone around a theme park near the proposed Shanghai Disneyland.

Source: China Daily
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