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Profiles of China Provinces, Cities and Industrial Parks

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Shanghai: Market Profile

Major Economic Indicators

Economic Indicators20172018
(%, y-o-y)
(%, y-o-y)
Gross Domestic Product (RMB bn)3,063.36.913,268.06.61
Per Capita GDP (RMB)126,6346.81
Added Value Output
   Primary industry (RMB bn)11.1-0.8110.4-6.91
   Secondary industry (RMB bn)933.15.81973.31.81
   Tertiary industry (RMB bn)2,119.27.512,284.38.71
Value-added Industrial Output2 (RMB bn)839.36.51869.51.91
Fixed-assets Investment (RMB bn)724.77.35.2
Retail Sales (RMB bn)1,183.08.11,266.97.9
Inflation (Consumer Price Index, %)1.71.6
Exports (US$ bn)193.75.6207.27.0
   By foreign invested enterprises (US$ bn)129.34.6134.44.0
Imports (US$ bn)282.412.8308.59.2
   By foreign invested enterprises (US$ bn)188.115.6198.25.4
Utilised Foreign Direct Investment (US$ bn)17.0-

1 In real terms   
2 For all state-owned enterprises and other forms with annual sales over RMB20 million

Sources: Shanghai Statistical Yearbook 2018, Shanghai Statistical Bureau, China’s Customs Statistics


General Background

Shanghai has a total area of 6,340.5 sq km, consisting of 16 districts. Total resident population stood at 24.2 million by the end of 2017. Shanghai is one of the 4 municipalities and historically a commercial and financial center of China.

Located at the heart of the Yangtze River Delta, Shanghai is not only the leading container port in China, but also the busiest container port in the world in 2017 which handled 40.23 million TEUs in 2017, up 8.3% from 2016.

The China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone (SHFTZ) was approved by the State Council on 17 August 2013 as the first pilot free trade zone in China. It covers the four special customs supervision areas of the Waigaoqiao Bonded Area, Waigaoqiao Bonded Logistics Park, Yangshan Bonded Port Area and Pudong Airport Comprehensive Bonded Area. On 28 December 2014, the National People's Congress authorised the State Council to expand the SHFTZ by incorporating the Lujiazui Financial Area, Jinqiao Development Zone and Zhangjiang High-Tech Park. The expanded FTZ has a total area of 120.72 sq km. By the end of 2017, there were 7 billion of foreign direct investment absorbed in the SHFTZ, accounting for 41.2% of the whole city.


In 2017, 69.2% of Shanghai’s GDP was attributed to services industries. The top 3 largest industries were financial services, retail and wholesale and real estates. Shanghai will focus on the development of financial services, logistics and cultural industries.

Shanghai plays a key role in China’s heavy industries. BaoWu Steel Group, China’s largest steelmaker, is located in Shanghai. Auto manufacture is another important industry. Shanghai’s output of motor vehicles reached 2.91 million in 2017, accounting for 10.0% of the national total. Shanghai is also a leading producer of ethylene, plastics, microcomputers, ICs and mobile phones.

Composition of GDP (%)


Source: Shanghai Statistical Yearbook 2018


Output Share of Key Industries (2017)

 % share of gross industrial output
Automotive manufacturing20.0
Computer, communications and other electronic equipment16.3
Raw chemical materials and chemical products8.5
General equipment7.5
Electrical machinery equipment6.3
Smelting and pressing of ferrous metal3.9
Special Purpose Equipment3.8

Source: Shanghai Statistical Yearbook 2018


Shanghai has been undergoing major industrial restructuring. The share of low value-added manufacturing has decreased significantly, particularly the textile and heavy-equipment manufacturing industries as many of them have relocated to outside Shanghai.

Financial Industry

Shanghai is China’s financial centre. By the end of 2017, there were 1,491 financial institutions, including banks, insurance companies and securities companies, of which 251 were foreign-invested. The set up of the market operation head office of the People’s Bank of China in Shanghai in 2005 has further strengthened the importance of Shanghai as a financial centre.

High-tech & Modern Industry Development

Shanghai has made significant progress in developing its high-tech industries, such as computer, telecommunications equipment, and integrated circuit manufacturing. Technology area with the most output value of the high-tech industries is electronic computers and office equipments. The six key advanced industries (including electronic information product, automobile, petrochemical, fine steel, equipment complex, bio-medicine) accounted for 68.9% of the gross industrial output in 2017.


Shanghai is a major tourist destination. In 2017, the number of domestic tourists grew by 7.5% to 318 million while overseas tourists grew by 2.2% to 8.73 million.

Foreign Trade

The leading overseas markets in 2017 were the US, Japan, Hong Kong, the Netherlands and Singapore. Major sources of imports in 2017 included Japan, the US, Germany and Korea. In 2017, Shanghai exported US$18.0 billion to Hong Kong and imported US$0.4 billion from Hong Kong.

Foreign Investment

Chart: Utilised FDI of Shanghai
Chart: Utilised FDI of Shanghai

Shanghai is a major destination for foreign direct investment. By 2017, multi-national companies have set up 625 regional headquarters and 426 R&D centers in Shanghai.

In 2017 Shanghai accounted for about 13.0% of China’s total utilised FDI. The city’s cosmopolitan character, sophisticated and affluent consumers, and highly educated and skilled labor force make it highly attractive to overseas investors.

In recent years, thanks to liberalisations in the services sector, foreign investment in the services sector has increased far more rapidly than in the secondary sector. Of the utilised FDI in 2017, the secondary industry accounted for 5.0% and the tertiary industry accounted for 95.0%. Up to 2017, the cumulative total of utilised FDI reached US$223.2 billion where the secondary sector accounted for 26.7% and the tertiary sector accounted for 73.1%.

Hong Kong is the largest source of overseas investment in Shanghai. In 2017 Hong Kong investors signed 1,233 contracts with contracted amount of US$22.8 billion, and the utilised FDI invested by Hong Kong reached US$9.7 billion or 57% of the total utilised FDI in 2017. Other major investors in 2017 came from Japan and Singapore.

Consumer Market

Shanghai is the largest consumer market among all mainland cities, supported by the rising income level and large inflow of tourists. Shanghai consumers are also being viewed as trend-setters for fashion and lifestyle products among the whole country.

Shanghai’s retail sector is developing rapidly. Shanghai’s per capita disposable income of urban residents reached RMB62,596 in 2017, increased by 6.7% from 2016.


Composition of Per Capita Expenditure of Urban Household (%)

Food, tobacco & liquors44.524.7
Household articles7.74.6
Medicine & medical services5.66.5
Transportation & communications8.610.0
Recreation, cultural & education14.512.0

Source: Shanghai Statistical Yearbook 2018


Major foreign retail enterprises in Shanghai include hypermarkets like Carrefour, Walmart and Metro and department stores like Isetan and New World Daimaru, etc. Supermarkets and convenience stores are mainly local enterprises.

Franchised chain stores from Hong Kong such as U2, G2000, Baleno, Bossini, Giordano, etc. have also entered Shanghai. Famous Hong Kong brands in Shanghai included Esprit, Chow Sang Sang, Chow Tai Fook and Luk Fook.

Shanghai has strong distribution power in China, especially in the Eastern region and Yangtze River Delta. And foreign brands often choose Shanghai as point of entry into the China market. Domestic tourists and travellers used to visit Huaihai Road and Nanjing Road for a glimpse of the latest trends in the Chinese marketplace. The shopping malls on the Nanjing Road, Huaihai Road and in the Xujiahui Business Center are filled with people every day, displaying the most stylish chic in the world.


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