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Located in Guangdong province directly across the border from Hong Kong, Shenzhen is a major commercial and industrial center of the Pearl River Delta region. Until 1980, the city was a small fishing town, but was chosen as the site of China’s first Special Economic Zone (SEZ) due to its proximity to Hong Kong. The Shenzhen SEZ was a forerunner for then-President Deng Xiaoping’s experiments in market reforms, and today the city is one of South China’s most dynamic and developed economies.

Shenzhen holds direct jurisdiction over six administrative districts and manages four new districts, covering a total area of 770 square miles. The sub-provincial city of Shenzhen is divided into six zones: Luohu, Futian, Nanshan, Yantian, Bao’an and Longgang. Until 2010, only Luohu, Futian, Nanshan and Yantian were included in the SEZ, but the SEZ has since expanded to include Bao’an and Longgang.

Shenzhen is one of China’s fastest growing cities, and has the country’s fourth-highest GDP, which grew by 8.8 percent in 2014 to US $250 billion. Shenzhen is heavily engaged in global trade, with one of the busiest container ports in the world. Foreign trade value grew by 15.1 percent in 2013, totaling US $537.36 billion. That same year, imports from the U.S. to Shenzhen totaled US $11.7 billion, while the city’s exports to the U.S. totaled US $29.6 billion, ranking just behind Hong Kong and Japan.

Key Industries and City-City Relationships

Shenzhen and Houston, Texas became sister cities in 1989. Shenzhen has also maintained a sister city relationship with Reno, Nevada since 2008.


Shenzhen’s energy industry is highly fragmented and inefficient. The city is trying to develop its energy sector and is currently experiencing high demand for oil and other energy products. As a result, firms may find opportunities in the city’s growing energy sector.

Imported Food

Shenzhen’s average monthly salary reached RMB 6,935 (USD $1,134) in 2015 – the third highest in China after Beijing and Shanghai. Rising incomes have brought changes to tastes and patterns of food and beverage consumption in the city.

China is the largest international market for U.S. foodstuffs, having imported US $25.9 billion in 2015. Shenzhen’s proximity to Hong Kong, logistics capabilities, and SEZs make it an ideal location to serve as a port of entry for food imports into the Chinese market, an industry expected to be worth US $422 billion by 2018.

Computers and Internet

The Shenzhen government actively promotes the city’s IT industries. Shenzhen’s IT sector relies heavily on imports, particularly from the U.S. In 2013, Shenzhen imported over US $72.3 billion of integrated circuits to support the sector’s development.

Shenzhen also plays a vital role in servicing U.S. demand for electronic equipment. The export value of data-processing equipment totaled US $33.7 billion in 2013, indicating the city’s strong supply of certain electronics goods.

Qianhai Shekou New District

Officially approved by China’s State Council on August 26, 2010, the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone (Qianhai) was established with the aim of serving as an experimental business zone for better interaction between Mainland China and Hong Kong in the financial, logistics, and IT services sectors. The zone, which is still under construction, covers a 15 square kilometer area and provides various industry incentives and preferential financial policies. Once construction is completed, Qianhai will be within a 30-minute commuting radius of Hong Kong. Major industries in the zone include financial and information services, modern logistics, technology, cultural and creative industries, and professional services.

The Qianhai Bay Bonded Port Area, set up inside the zone to liberalize services trade between Hong Kong and Guangdong, includes seven warehouses and provides services such as international procurement, sales and distribution, international transit, R&D, and processing and manufacturing.

Earlier this year, Shekou area (a part of the Qianhai zone) was chosen for inclusion in the Guangdong Free Trade Zone (FTZ), one of China’s four FTZs, which offer the lowest tariff rates and other preferential policies. This means that the Shekou area is able to enjoy incentives launched in both the Qianhai Zone and the Guangdong FTZ. Imported goods stored in the zone are exempt from import tariffs, and simplified customs clearance procedures implemented exclusively in the zone enable imported goods to be shipped into China within a shorter period of time.

Contact Information

U.S. Commercial Service - Guangzhou

43 Hua Jiu Road, Zhujiang New Town

Tianhe District, Guangzhou 510623, China

Tel: (86-20) 3814-5000

Fax: (86-20) 3814-5310

Email: office.guangzhou@trade.gov

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