Shanghai is aiming to achieve a 9 per cent increase in gross domestic product this year, the city's mayor said yesterday, predicting the first single-digit growth since 1991. Addressing the opening of the Shanghai People's Congress, Han Zheng said the city's economy grew at about 10 per cent last year, down from 13.3 per cent in 2007. The economy and job creation featured prominently in the mayor's report on his first year in office and the municipal government's goals for this year. 'This may be a year with more and greater economic difficulties for Shanghai, but it is also a year of huge opportunity,' he said. 'We need to have a detailed estimate of the seriousness and complexity of the economic situation to prepare adequately for the difficulties and challenges ahead, and believe that we will definitely succeed in [the city's] future development.' Despite the difficult economic climate last year, the city increased revenue by 13.3 per cent to 238.2 billion yuan (HK$270.6 billion), while exports increased by 17.7 per cent. But the mayor's predictions for this year were more conservative, with the government's income expected to increase by just 6 per cent. He vowed to strengthen the city's status as an international centre for trade, finance and shipping despite the economic difficulties. 'The process of globalisation is not going to reverse,' he said. Mr Han said he aimed to maintain urban unemployment at less than 4.5 per cent and create 500,000 jobs. He also looked to encourage consumer spending - which increased by 17.9 per cent last year - as a way to boost the local economy. Spending on environmental protection would be set at 3 per cent of the city's gross domestic product. He said the government would increase its investment in science and research in an attempt to boost businesses' 'self-developed creativity'. The two-hour speech was delivered to about 1,700 delegates at the Shanghai Exhibition Hall. The annual meeting of the city's legislature continues until Friday.