In 2013, Shenzhen’s GDP totaled $237 billion, putting it on par with a mid-sized province by terms of total GDP. Its total economic output is higher than that of Portugal, the Republic of Ireland, and Vietnam. Its per capita GDP was ¥137,720($22,000) as of 2013, on par with some of the developed countries of the OECD. Shenzhen’s overall GDP grew by 16.3 percent yearly from 2001 to 2005 on average, though growth has slowed to around 10% per year since 2012. Shenzhen is in the top ranks among mainland Chinese cities in terms of comprehensive economic power. Shenzhen’s economic output is ranked fourth among the 659 Chinese cities (behind Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou).

In 2001, the working population reached 3.3 million. Though the secondary sector of industry had the largest share (1.85 million in 2001, increased by 5.5%), the tertiary sector of industry is growing fast (1.44 million in 2001, increased by 11.6%). The proportion of the three industries to the aggregate of GDP was 0.1:46.7:53.2 in 2009. The proportion of the primary industry to GDP was down by 13.4%, and the tertiary industry was up by 12.5%. Its import and export volumes have been first for the last nine consecutive years. It is the second in terms of industrial output. For five consecutive years, its internal revenue within local budget ranks third. It also ranks third in the use of foreign capital.

Shenzhen is a major manufacturing center in China. In the 1990s, Shenzhen was described as constructing “one highrise a day and one boulevard every three days”. The Shenzhen’s rapidly growing skyline is regarded as one of the best in the world. It currently has 26 buildings at over 200 meters tall, including the Kingkey 100 (the 9th tallest building) in the world, and Shun Hing Square (the 19th tallest building in the world).

Shenzhen is home to some of China’s most successful high-tech companies, such as BYD, Dingoo, G’Five, Hasee, Huawei, JXD, Konka, Netac, Skyworth, Tencent, Coolpad and ZTE. BYD, Hasee and Huaweiare headquartered in the Longgang District. TCL Corporation, best known as China’s number one TV brand, has a presence in the city. Taiwan’s largest company Hon Hai Group (Foxconn) has a manufacturing plant based in Shenzhen. Many foreign high-tech companies have their operations in the Science and Technology park in Nanshan District or outside the core districts where labor and land are much cheaper. CSG Holding is the largest architectural glass manufacturer in China. Vankeis the largest residential real estate developer in China. In the financial sector, Ping An Bank,China Merchants Bank and Shenzhen City Commercial Bank are some of the largest banks in China, with headquarters in Shenzhen.

Due to its unique status, Shenzhen is also an extremely fertile ground for startups, be it by local or foreign entrepreneurs. Successful startups include PetCube, Palette, WearVigo, OnePlus and Notch.

Shenzhen Convention & Exhibition Center is a large public construction project with multiple functions of hosting business activities, celebrations, conferences, conventions, entertainment events, exhibitions, restaurants and all kinds of shows.

Traditionally, Shenzhen city was composed of two areas, the Shenzhen special economic zone (called 关内 (guān nèi), lit. “(with)in the boarder”) and the rest (called 关外 (guān wài), lit. “out(side) of the boarder”), separated by a boarder. Thus Shenzhen SEZ was separated from the rest of mainland China (from Hong Kong by another boarder). Initially, the boarder control was very strict, and required that mainland China citizens from out of Shenzhen SEZ obtain and hold special permissions for SEZ. Over recent years, the boarder controls have been gradually weakened, and the permission requirement has been abandoned. On 1 July 2010, the distinction was broken, the original SEZ boarder control was cancelled, and the Shenzhen special economic zone was expanded to the whole city. The area of Shenzhen SEZ thus increased from 396 square kilometres (153 sq mi) to 1,953 square kilometres (754 sq mi).