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Shanghai tries to mend relations with international firms after the lockdown

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English - Shanghai officials are having repeated meetings with international corporations and lowering a major bord...

Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English - Shanghai officials are having repeated meetings with international corporations and lowering a major border requirement for abroad workers in an attempt to restore confidence among multinational firms hurt and frustrated by the city's COVID-19 shutdown.

The two-month shutdown severely harmed the image of China's most cosmopolitan metropolis and largest commercial hub, with many expats departing and foreign corporations warning that they are reconsidering investment plans.

The Shanghai government said in a statement on Sunday that it expects to host 20 talks with foreign enterprises in critical areas including as vehicles, trade, electronics, and biomedicine this month. Companies from significant investing countries and regions, such as the United States, Europe, Japan, and South Korea, would be chosen.

Executives from U.S. blue chips such as Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson attended the first of two meetings held thus far, according to the report. The second group comprised automakers such as Tesla, GM, and Ford.

On Wednesday, the corporations did not immediately reply to calls for comment.

Furthermore, during a meeting with the city's vice mayor on Tuesday, the European Chamber of Commerce was informed that Shanghai will no longer require official invitation letters, also known as PU letters, for foreigners returning for work and their dependents, addressing a long-standing irritant for the expat community.

China began requiring foreigners to get PU letters as part of their visa application in early 2020, as it strengthened border restrictions substantially since the outbreak began.

Many businesses had complained about the difficulty and length of time it took to secure the document, which hampered the hiring of foreign workers.

According to the European Chamber, the lifting of this condition was "an move from central government to stimulate work and production resuming in Shanghai."

On Wednesday, the Shanghai authorities did not respond to a request for comment.

The China-Britain Business Council's managing director, Tom Simpson, said the organization expects to meet with the Shanghai administration in the coming weeks.

Shanghai has provided some business restoration assistance to its members, such as issuing logistics permits and restarting warehouses, but "more practical support" had yet to be delivered, he noted.

Shanghai attempted to keep manufacturing operational under a "closed loop" operation throughout the lockdown, but businesses acknowledged the arrangements created significant challenges.

The paucity of flights into China - the great majority of which have been canceled for more than two years - is also a significant stumbling block.

China has steadfastly adhered to a "zero-COVID" policy aimed at halting the virus's transmission, a strategy that is increasingly out of sync with the rest of the globe.

The zero-COVID policy, according to Joerg Wuttke, president of the EU Chamber, is hurting not just Shanghai, but China as a whole, especially as other competitive markets open up and try to entice enterprises away from China to their borders.

He stated, "The world will not wait for China to clean up this mess."

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