Foreign businessmen: Shanghai plan to create world-class business environment sparks new opportunities

(en.sh-italent.com)Updated : 2024-02-28


Carlo D'Andrea, vice-president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China and chairman of its Shanghai Board. [Photo/thepaper.cn]

Shanghai's conference on optimizing the business environment held on Feb 18 marked the launch of the city's seventh action plan to create a world-class business environment, accompanied by an illustrated English version, drawing a positive response from foreign businesses in Shanghai.

In an interview with Shanghai-based media outlet The Paper on Feb 22, Carlo D'Andrea, vice-president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China and chairman of its Shanghai Board, and Bruno Lannes, a Shanghai-based senior partner at Bain & Co, gave their perspectives on the new initiatives.

They shared their view that the initiatives offer foreign enterprises, especially from Europe, more opportunities for cooperation with China.

Carlo D'Andrea, who has been living in Shanghai for over 20 years, said he hopes the policies will lead to tangible results and looks forward to more small and medium-sized European enterprises investing in and developing in Shanghai, viewing the optimization of the business environment as a catalyst for broader foreign investment.

He said that Germany has invested more in China than any other EU country, but the German enterprises investing in China are mainly large companies like Volkswagen and BMW. With the optimization of the business environment, more small and medium-sized enterprises are expected to start investing in China.

According to the Shanghai Municipal Foreign Affairs Office, an illustrated English version of the action plan was produced this year to help foreign enterprises in Shanghai understand the relevant policies.


Bruno Lannes, a Shanghai-based senior partner at Bain & Co. [Photo/thepaper.cn]

Bruno Lannes, also a long-term resident of Shanghai, said that when choosing a location to conduct overseas business, foreign enterprises typically consider whether local government policies support them and whether the investment destination is attractive.

Lannes believes that another key factor in attracting foreign investment is talent. He envisions that in addition to Chinese talent, attracting talent from around the world through methods such as encouraging them to come study in China will also be part of optimizing the business environment.

The Shanghai Municipal Foreign Affairs Office revealed that since the launch of Shanghai's international service portal on Jan 1, the portal has received more than 30 emails, mainly concerning inquiries about daily life.

In the current volatile international situation, the prospects for China-EU cooperation have garnered attention. European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, during a visit to Shanghai in September 2023, underlined the city's pivotal role in international exchanges and its status as a gateway for international cooperation. He said that as an open economic entity, the EU is willing to strengthen bilateral economic and trade cooperation with China.

In January this year, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Germany (CHKD) released a report stating that despite facing challenges, half of German enterprises in China still plan to increase their investment in the country. Recently, the German Economic Research Institute pointed out in a report based on data from the German central bank that in 2023, German investment in China accounted for 10.3 percent of Germany's total overseas investment, the highest level since 2014.

There have also been discussions on industrial competition and "decoupling" from China within Europe. D'Andrea said that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had previously referred to China as a "partner", but also a "competitor" and "rival". He highlighted the cooperation between China and Europe and emphasized the significance of mutual exchanges.

D'Andrea also said that amidst the complex international landscape, only when Chinese companies invest in Europe and European companies are willing to invest in China, can China and Europe achieve mutual benefit and win-win results.

Previously, the Chinese side has expressed hope for enhanced cooperation between China and Europe, as stated at the Munich Security Conference on Feb 17, as they are two of the most influential economies in the world and should be aware of the international responsibilities they bear. A more stable and closer China-Europe relationship will not only benefit both sides, but also the world.