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Shenzhen (Guangdong) City Information

Major Economic Indicators

Economic Indicators20172018
(%, y-o-y)
(%, y-o-y)
Gross Domestic Product (RMB billion)2,249.018.812,422.197.61
Per Capita GDP (RMB)
Added Value Output
- Primary Industry (RMB billion)1.9627.012.213.91
- Secondary Industry (RMB billion)931.819.21996.199.31
- Tertiary Industry (RMB billion)1,315.248.411,423.796.41
Value-added Industrial Output2 (RMB billion)808.769.31910.959.51
Fixed-assets Investment (RMB billion)514.7326.2619.1020.6
Retail Sales of Consumer Goods (RMB billion)601.629.1616.8937.61
Inflation (Consumer Price Index, %)1.42.8
Exports (RMB billion)1,653.365.51,627.47-1.6
Imports (RMB billion)1,147.797.91,370.9119.4
Utilised Foreign Direct Investment (US$ billion)7.4019.98.20310.8

1 In renminbi real terms
2 For all state-owned and other forms of enterprises with annual sales over RMB20 million
3 The series on retail sales were rebased in 2018, the growth rates were in real terms.
Source: Shenzhen Municipal Bureau of Statistics

General Background

Shenzhen is located on the east bank of the Pearl River Estuary, with the river providing a natural boundary with Hong Kong. The city covers an area of 1,992 sq km and, as of the end of 2018, its permanent population stood at 13.02 million. In 1980, Shenzhen was designated as China’s first Special Economic Zone, serving as a pioneer and trial zone for the country’s subsequent reform, opening up and contemporary re-development.

According to the 2018 Report on China’s Urban Competitiveness, as published by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Shenzhen is ranked as number one on the mainland in terms of “overall economic competitiveness”. It is also regarded as one of China’s most important high-tech R&D and manufacturing bases. In 2018, Shenzhen was the world’s fourth largest container port and China’s fourth largest airport for cargoes. Shenzhen’s per capita GDP is the highest in Guangdong.

According to the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, Shenzhen is one of four core cities to serve as the engines for regional development.  Shenzhen is to leverage on its leading role as a special economic zone, a national economic core city and a national innovation city, expedite its transformation into a modern and international city, and strive to become a capital of innovation and creativity with global influence; to pursue the development of the “Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong-Macao” innovation and technology corridor.


Dating back as far as 2008, the GDP share of Shenzhen’s tertiary industries has exceeded the 50% mark. In 2018, such industries accounted for 58.7% of the total. Overall, the city has four pillar industries – high-tech, financial services, modern logistics and the cultural sector. In the case of its high-tech industries their overall value-added output has risen from RMB305.9 billion in 2010 to RMB829.7 billion in 2018, an average annual growth rate of 13.4%.

Composition of GDP (%)

Primary Industry
Secondary Industry49.6
Tertiary Industry50.3

Source: Shenzhen Municipal Bureau of Statistics

“Indigenous innovation” has long been seen as the cornerstone of Shenzhen’s development. In 2017, its overall R&D expenditure amounted to 4.13% of its GDP, a figure significantly higher than the national average of 2.15%. In terms of total PCT international patent filings and invention patent ownership per 10,000 people, it ranks first among all of China’s medium to large-sized cities. It is also seen as a global pioneer in several high-tech sectors, including 4G technology, DNA sequencing, metamaterials and 3D displays.

The number of Shenzhen enterprises designated as national high-tech enterprises increased from 5,524 in 2015 to 11,230 in 2018, with the major share in the development of electronic information systems, advanced manufacturing and automation. Other technological sectors include biotechnology and new pharmaceuticals, new energy and energy conservation, resources and the environment, aviation and aerospace, new materials and high-tech services.

Shenzhen’s “maker” population has also enjoyed continuous growth over recent years, with thousands of such businesses now active in the city, including Chaihuo Maker Space, Makeblock and Seeed Studio. In addition, a number of globally-renowned high-tech enterprises have established R&D centres or regional headquarters in Shenzhen, including ZTE, Huawei Technologies, Tencent and Apple Inc.

In April 2015, the Qianhai-Shekou Area of China (Guangdong) Pilot Free Trade Zone officially began operating in Shenzhen, with one of its key roles seen as providing a platform for the trial opening up of China’s financial sector to the outside world. This is in line with the city’s own 13th Five-year Plan (2016-2020), which sees it developing into an international financial innovation centre, as well as acting as China’s principal centre for the trialling of financial innovations.

With regard to the wider development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Bay Area, there is an ongoing commitment to developing the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Innovation Circle. This would see Shenzhen and Hong Kong jointly establishing a technology transfer centre, an international technology trading platform, a venture capital funding services platform and a technology service centre. In addition to this, Shenzhen is also looking to strengthen the service sectors of its external traffic and transport facilities, accelerate the establishment of a global shipping network, upgrade its airport into an international hub and expedite the construction of its external railway network.

Foreign Trade and Investment

For 2018, Shenzhen’s exports accounted for 38% of all of Guangdong’s exports and 10% of China’s total exports. In the latter case, it has been the largest single contributor among all the mainland cities for 26 consecutive years. In terms of the total value of the city’s exports, 51% was derived from the high-tech sector.

Of Shenzhen’s actually utilised FDI in 2018, 24.8% was allocated to leasing and business services, 20% to the real estate sector, 9.4% to the financial sector, 10.9% to the wholesale and retail sector and 21.2% to the manufacturing industries. For 2017, 89% of Shenzhen’s ultilised FDI was sourced from Hong Kong.

In terms of tourism and entertainment resources, Shenzhen is home to two of the world’s largest miniature landscapes – the Splendid China Folk Village and the Window of the World. Among its other facilities are the Happy Valley Theme Park, the beaches of Dameisha and Nan Ao and several other popular bathing destinations. In 2018, Shenzhen’s tourism hospitality facilities welcomed 64.08 million overnight visitors, of which 12.2 million were overseas (including Hong Kong) tourists.



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