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Shanghai ‘destined’ as trade hub of Asia

(Global Times)

10:31, October 31, 2011

Shanghai is en route to becoming a regional hub for international commerce within Asia's emerging economy, 500 government leaders and delegates from 16 countries and regions heard Sunday at the city's 23rd International Business Leaders' Advisory Council (IBLAC).

"It's the beginning of an Asian century," Maurice Greenberg, former chairman of IBLAC, said at the annual conference dedicated to hatching development strategies for the city. "Shanghai is not only the major port of entry in Asia, but also the world's trade center - with its population, talent and business environment, it has everything necessary to become a leader, not only in Asia, but the world."

Such praise was closely echoed by other VIPs, including Carlos Gutierrez, former US secretary of commerce, and strongly restated by Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng, who said the goals would be realized by 2020, when the city aspires to become a world leader in business, finance, trade and shipping.

"Shanghai has transformed into a modern metropolitan city from one that was traditionally industrial and commerce-based," the mayor told guests. "Looking to the future, we plan to build the city into a market with the capacity to allocate resources to the world.

In order to do so, we must insist on building a market driven by innovation, and developed strategically," he said.

The mayor went on to boast about the city's yuan-denominated trade settlements hitting 38 billion yuan ($5.97 billion) last year with stock and futures trading in Shanghai enjoying No.3 and No.2 world rankings, respectively. Han also pointed to Shanghai's rise to one of the world's top three benchmark pricing centers for nonferrous metals, next to London and New York.

There are also ambitious plans to expand Shanghai's financial market, according to the city's 12th Five-Year Plan, which wants to see a trade volume of 1,000 trillion yuan by 2015. It also expects the city's stock market trade volume and market value to enter the world's top three, while holding commodity futures' trade volume at the top two - and driving interbank bonds outstanding to the top three. Financial derivatives are set to enter the top five.

The mayor said that 20 years of Pudong New Area's opening-up policies have further enabled commodity sales and trades in Shanghai to climb at an average yearly rate of 22 percent, while foreign direct investment (FDI) in the city is growing at 23 percent annually - after hitting the $100 billion-mark last year.

By 2015, meanwhile, local trade is predicted to reach $540 billion, commodity sales should surpass 8.7 trillion yuan and e-commerce's trade volume is expected to exceed 1.2 trillion yuan, added Han, at the daylong meeting that ran under the banner of "Bolstering a market system," where the city's recruitment of foreign and local talent, completion of the legal framework, and improvement of the IPR environment, visa applications and living standards were also discussed.

"How to build up Shanghai's soft power" was put on the slate as the focus for next year's conference.

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