3rd China-S'pore project draws $158b investments

Mr Sun Zhengcai
Mr Sun Zhengcai

Govt-led Chongqing Connectivity Initiative garners 260 initiatives, up from 11 announced in January

Less than four months since its launch, the third government-led project between China and Singapore has garnered 260 initiatives worth US$115 billion (S$158 billion), up from 11 worth US$6.56 billion announced in January.

The figures were revealed in a "background information" booklet on Chongqing's economy, which was distributed at a meeting held by the south-western city's government during China's annual national legislative session.

The projects will be "gradually implemented", it added, without giving a timeline.

There were no other details provided at the meeting or in the booklet, which gave an overview of Chongqing's economic, social and government issues in the past year.

Launched during President Xi Jinping's visit to Singapore last November, the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative (CCI) focuses on modern connectivity and services and is aimed at boosting growth in China's less-developed western regions.

It is the third government-led project, coming after those in Suzhou and Tianjin - and has targeted the sectors of finance, telecommunications, aviation and logistics.

OFF TO A GOOD START

The project has got off to a good start... In my interaction with my Singaporean counterparts, I've stressed to them that we need to, through policy innovation, push through implementation for these projects and attract new ones.

MR SUN ZHENGCAI, Chongqing's party boss (above), saying that the key to implementing projects was "policy and mechanism innovation".

In January, Chongqing mayor Huang Qifan announced that 11 memorandums of understanding (MOUs) worth US$6.56 billion had been signed, involving Singapore banks and aviation players, among others.

"The project has got off to a good start," Chongqing's party boss Sun Zhengcai, who identified it as an important initiative for the city, told the meeting.

In his first public comments on the CCI, Mr Sun said the key to implementing projects was "policy and mechanism innovation".

"In my interaction with my Singaporean counterparts, I've stressed to them that we need to, through policy innovation, push through implementation for these projects and attract new ones," Mr Sun said.

While he did not elaborate, national legal and regulatory restrictions, as well as conflicts of interest with major state players, had previously been suggested as possible impediments to implementing projects.

Singapore and China have already formed a Joint Implementation Council to better coordinate policies and implementation at both national and local levels.

Speaking at the meeting, Chongqing delegate Tang Lin suggested that current restrictions be relaxed for both Chongqing and Singapore companies.

This will allow both sides to invest and cooperate more freely in each other's markets, noted Mr Tang, who is president of the Chongqing Free Trade Port Administrative Corporation.

He said the government should also relax rules for Singapore firms to enter the legal, healthcare and education sectors in Chongqing.

"Through these policy innovations, we can, while providing better services, also promote growth and development in Chongqing and the western regions," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2016, with the headline '3rd China-S'pore project draws $158b investments'. Print Edition | Subscribe