Shanghai lowered its growth target for 2019 and took on the tasks of expanding its free trade zone, setting up a registration system and a new board on its stock exchange, and integrating with regional development.
The municipality projects its gross domestic product growth rate at 6 to 6.5 percent for the year, Mayor Ying Yong said in his government work report at the annual session of the ongoing Shanghai People's Congress on Sunday.
Last year, Shanghai's GDP grew by 6.6 percent, exceeding its target by 0.1 percentage point and reaching 3.27 trillion yuan ($484.8 billion).
"Though we have maintained steady economic growth, elements exist that will cause uncertainties and challenges to, or even slow down the economy," Ying said. "Even harder work is needed to sustain healthy, steady growth."
Sun Lijian, a Fudan University professor of economics, said the 6 to 6.5 percent growth range indicates the city has prepared for the global uncertainties, such as protection-ism, and it shows the Shanghai government's determination in shifting its development model and industrial restructuring, which often takes time and will affect direct economic indicators like GDP.
Xu Xiaoliang, executive chairman of the Fosun International Ltd board and a deputy to the congress, said he is optimistic about 2019 because Shanghai has kept improving the business environment, and that a lower GDP target can ensure sustainable growth.
The three major tasks President Xi Jinping mentioned during his inspection in Shanghai in November－expanding the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, launching a science and technology innovation board on the Shanghai Stock Exchange and a pilot registration system for listed companies, and promoting higher quality growth and integration of the Yangtze River Delta region－led the municipal government's work agenda.
"Putting the three new major tasks at the top of our agenda, we will be more open-minded ... as we play our role ... to overcome the most difficult challenges," Ying said.
Besides planning out a new section of the free trade zone, Ying said the government will take on institutional innovation in the FTZ, set mechanisms in line with international norms and work on making Shanghai a competitor among the world's free trade zones.
The municipality will cooperate with the central government to establish the new board and pilot registration system at the stock market to provide more financing opportunities for high-quality IPO candidates, channel more loans to small and medium-sized private enterprises and expand the policy financing guarantee fund for small and medium-sized enterprises.
Joint projects in infrastructure, technological innovation and environmental protection will be advanced in the Yangtze River Delta region, and regional public services, such as elderly care and social security will be explored, Ying said about the integration of the area.
Bo Dongxi, a deputy from Jiading Power Supply, said the company has been participating in upgrading the Yangtze River Delta regional energy network, which will allow more input from the distributed generation, storage and transmission of electricity, such as solar power plants and wind farms.
Regulation in the real estate market will continue, and property prices will stay at a stable level, Ying said, adding that the municipal government will add 100,000 rental housing and 60,000 subsidized housing units to improve availability.
During the congress's five-day session, municipal legislators will review a draft of the city's first regulation on management of domestic waste and vote on a final version on Thursday.