Riding higher-level opening-up and better commercial environment, Shanghai will build its Hongqiao Central Business District as a key business, exhibition and trade zone, said senior city officials on Tuesday.
Hongqiao CBD will also accommodate headquarters of multinational companies, they said.
Zong Ming, vice-mayor of Shanghai, told a news conference that one of the main tasks for Hongqiao in the next five years will be expansion of its exhibition business, to make the most of the momentum generated by the annual China International Import Expo.
"Developing the exhibition and convention sector is the key to boosting economic vitality in Hongqiao CBD … and to attract industry leading companies and international trade promotion agencies to aggregate," Zong said.
In the past five years, the National Exhibition and Convention Center, located at the heart of the area, has held exhibitions with accumulated area of 28 million square meters, including the high-profile import expo, according to the committee of Hongqiao CBD.
Bao Bingzhang, Party secretary of the committee, said, "Hongqiao will further expand the functions of the CIIE as a platform for global procurement, investment, cultural exchanges and open cooperation."
He said the committee will provide services such as intellectual property protection and international arbitration and accelerate Yangtze River Delta integration through cross-regional recognition of business certificates to make Hongqiao a global trade hub.
Since February, 23 policies that facilitate trade and improve business environment have already been implemented, after the State Council, China's Cabinet, announced a comprehensive plan to build the Hongqiao International Hub as part of higher-level opening-up.
They include setting up free trade accounts with cross-border financial services and opening a dedicated international internet channel, according to Wang Huajie, deputy director of the municipal development and reform commission.
Wang said 19 trade facilitation policies for the CIIE were normalized, such as Customs waiver for deals made during the expo and the cultural relics exhibition permit.
"Hongqiao CBD has unique advantages of its location and transportation. It's the first stop for doing business in the Yangtze River Delta," said Rohit Jawa, president of Unilever North Asia, which set up its North Asia regional headquarters in the area way back in 2007.
"Its open economy has promoted our business in China, and we have seen continuous growth for over a decade," he said, adding Unilever has been an exhibitor at the annual CIIE and is looking forward to the next one in November.