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May 11, 2017

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‘Attractive’ city for businesses, individuals

EDITOR’S note:

Every five years, Shanghai stops to take stock of what it has accomplished and what more needs to be done. The ongoing 11th Congress of the CPC Shanghai Committee convenes to begin that pro­cess anew. Its report card will help shape economic, trade, commercial, technology and financial policies, and outline the broad visions that carry the city’s dreams for the fu­ture. The work and home lives of local Chinese and expatri­ates alike will be affected by those decisions. In this series, we ask foreigners living in the city to share their views on Shanghai’s progress and future prospects.

TITUS von dem Bongart is a partner with Ernst & Young, Shanghai and head of the German Business Network for China, South Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

He had lived in China since 1997, advising multinational investors in China regarding relevant tax and investment issues. He is also a lecturer on International/China tax law at the University of Hamburg and Tongji University in Shanghai.

Shanghai Daily interviewed him recently.

Q: In the past five years, Shanghai has undergone many important changes in its growth strategy. How do you evaluate Shanghai’s progress?

A: Overall, Shanghai has established itself as an attractive city for companies and individuals. It is recognized as a very convenient and efficient location for different business activities and industries in China. For many, especially expatriates, Shanghai has become the preferred location.

Q: What about EY’s development here in the past five years? Has the firm benefited from Shanghai’s growth strategy?

A: EY’s practice in Chinese mainland has continued to grow. The number of employees in Shanghai has increased from 2,800 to more than 4,000 in the past five years. The number of our local partners has also increased by 30. All our service line businesses have seen rapid growth, and we have successfully integrated two local consulting businesses as well as a law firm.

Another area where our network has benefited is the government’s “go global” strategy. Many Shanghai-based enterprises have taken action to expand their footprints globally, and EY has advised some of them on strategy and implementation.

Q: What about your personal life in Shanghai in the past five years?

A: Personally, I believe that Shanghai has further progressed as an attractive city to live in. The city has been making positive changes to improve living standards in various areas. The further extension of the subway network and the recent offering of rental bikes have significantly facilitated mobility within the city. High-speed trains have become an alternative for commuting beyond the city’s boundaries, which is a convenient option for business trips.

New recreational areas and greenbelts have been warmly welcomed and frequented by city dwellers. New museums, concert halls and other cultural sites have certainly elevated Shanghai’s attractiveness. Another recent development is the “outdoor” culture, with cafés and restaurants offering open-air facilities.

Q: What does Shanghai need to do to make the next five years even more successful?

A: Keeping all the great developments so far in mind, I would say that Shanghai could still improve in certain areas, such as Internet speed and accessibility. Air quality is another issue that requires further attention. The easing of visa requirements for young overseas talent and improvement in the punctuality of domestic flights would certain enhance the city’s international appeal.


(The views expressed above are the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the global EY organization or its member firms.)


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