Shanghai will begin constructing the mainland’s first free-trade zone this year, a step that advances the city’s aim of becoming a major international trading center, South China Morning Post reported, citing the state-owned Xinhua News Agency. Shanghai mayor Yang Xiong said Sunday that the city will first move to expand its bonded areas, where goods can move in and out without customs supervision. The city will also increase the accessibility of foreign-currency offshore bank accounts and finance leases, Xiong said. Shanghai aims to attract an additional 150 regional headquarters of multinational companies by 2018. The project should be complete by 2016, said Wan Zengwei, director of Pudong Academy of Reform and Development in Shanghai. Analysts said the new trade zone is likely to compete with Hong Kong for foreign investment.