Shanghai-Deutsche Stock Connect to boost China's financial market open-up
Matteo Giovannini
Shanghai Stock Exchange, Shanghai, China. /VCG Photo

Shanghai Stock Exchange, Shanghai, China. /VCG Photo

Editor's note: Matteo Giovannini is a finance professional at ICBC in Beijing and a member of the China Task Force at the Italian Ministry of Economic Development. The article reflects the author's opinions, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

As an old saying goes, Rome wasn't built in a day. This must be very clear to Chinese leaders who are broadly known for having long-term strategies towards their major goals. This is not an exception regarding the financial industry where China has made enormous improvements in less than a decade and is still developing at full steam. 

This week the news of an upcoming stock connect between Shanghai and Frankfurt hitting the headlines of major news media has created enthusiasm in the global financial community. It is not so unexpected since news about a possible deal started to circulate in January of this year and would recognize the importance of Germany as China's leading EU trading partner in terms of export sales.

This project is part of China's strategy to develop a more interconnected capital market on both equity and debt sides to be realized through stock connect and bond connect programs. The process has been developed into two phases: First, the Chinese mainland connects its huge market to Hong Kong; then through a bridge built in between, China starts to connect the mainland market to financial centers overseas.

The stock connect program started in 2014 with a pilot project connecting Shanghai, where all big state owned enterprises and large-cap companies are listed, with Hong Kong. In 2016, a second stock connect was realized this time between Shenzhen and Hong Kong. 

In 2017, the bond connect program marked another milestone of mutual access of capital markets between the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong enabling overseas investors to access China's domestic interbank bond market through a connection between the domestic and overseas bond markets.

The launch this year of the Shanghai-London Stock Connect (SLSC) has represented a breakthrough because it has allowed the connection of two stock exchanges located in different continents and time zones and for the first time that the non-Chinese companies could get direct exposure to China's domestic capital market.

London Stock Exchange, London, UK. /VCG Photo

London Stock Exchange, London, UK. /VCG Photo

At the same time, the SLSC has helped China enter Western financial markets. The London Stock Exchange is one of the oldest exchanges in the world and it is also the primary stock exchange in the UK and the largest in Europe.

The project of a Shanghai-Frankfurt Stock Connect to be launched in 2020 will cover the second largest European capital market, the Frankfurt Stock Exchange which is operated by Deutsche Borse AG. The China Europe International Exchange (CEINEX), created in November 2015 by Shanghai Stock Exchange, Deutsche Borse Group and the China Financial Futures Exchange, is currently in charge of setting up a new stock connect program that will link the capital markets in Shanghai and in Frankfurt, Germany's financial hub and European Central Bank's venue.

The exact date to launch this project has not been released but researches have found that a lot of high-quality listed firms have shown their strong interests in this program. What is certain by now is that the program will give a huge boost on the opening-up of Chinese financial market in terms of direct access to the capital markets of the two biggest European Stock Exchanges.

Once the Shanghai-Deutsche Stock Connect is completed, China is expected to be further integrated in global financial system, and the role of Shanghai as a global financial hub will also be elevated, enabling Shanghai to compete with the world's top two financial hubs, New York, and London.

According to the 25th edition of the Global Financial Centers Index (GFCI 25) compiled by the China Development Institute and Z/Yen Partners, Shanghai is now at the fifth spot among world's financial hubs. Shanghai is only preceded by New York, London, Hong Kong, and Singapore climbing from the 24th position when the ranking was first published in 2007.

Shanghai, which has recently surpassed Tokyo, is predicted to pass very soon Singapore, and it is not hard to imagine Shanghai as the world's second financial center in direct competition with New York.

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