Singapore and Chongqing can cooperate in new areas beyond connectivity: Chan Chun Sing

Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing (left) met Chongqing Mayor Zhang Guoqing on Feb 26, 2017 in Beijing. During the meeting, Minister Chan and Mayor Zhang reaffirmed the good progress made under the Chongqing Connectivity Initiativ
Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing (left) met Chongqing Mayor Zhang Guoqing on Feb 26, 2017 in Beijing. During the meeting, Minister Chan and Mayor Zhang reaffirmed the good progress made under the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative (CCI) and discussed new areas of cooperation such as the newly approved Chongqing Free Trade Zone.PHOTO: MTI

BEIJING - Singapore and Chongqing can explore cooperating in new areas beyond connectivity, taking advantage of the city's free trade zone, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing on Sunday (Feb 26).

He was speaking on the sidelines of a ministerial dialogue with the Singaporean community in Beijing held in conjunction with the 15th anniversary of the Singapore Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China (SingCham).

Last August, China announced a new batch of seven free trade zones (FTZs) in a bid to attract more foreign investments to lift growth. One of them will be located in the southwest municipality of Chongqing.

"Traditional FTZs are geographically bounded, like a bounded warehouse," said Mr Chan.

He told reporters that in his meeting with Chongqing mayor Zhang Guoqing earlier on Sunday, they had an "interesting discussion" on how both sides can have a breakthrough transcending the concept of a geographically marked FTZ.

"In the new economy, boundaries are not necessarily the defining characteristics," he added.

Earlier, Mr Chan witnessed the signing ceremony of 10 commercial pacts between Singapore and Chongqing companies as part of the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative (CCI).

The total value of the 10 deals are worth about US$1.4 billion (S$1.97 billion).

The CCI is Singapore and China's third joint project, started in November 2015, after Suzhou Industrial Park and Tianjin Eco-City. It aims to help drive growth in China's less developed western region by improving Chongqing's transport and services links to the region and beyond.

The four main pillars of cooperation are in transport and logistics, aviation, information and communication technology and finance.

Mr Chan said that Singapore and Chongqing could look to cooperate in new sectors, beyond the four pilliars, in areas such as medical, education, precision engineering and infrastructure under the FTZ.

"We could link up the CCI concept with the new FTZ concept, and we are excited by this," Mr Chan added.

Another signing ceremony held elsewhere in Beijing yesterday saw five pacts being inked on cooperation to improve the infrastructure and services in Tianjin Eco-City (TEC).

Started in 2008, the eco-city is Singapore's second joint project with China. Before it was developed, the site in the north-eastern port city was a mix of saltpans, barren land and a large wastewater pond. Today the 30 sq km green township more than 70,000 residents and 4,500 registered companies with a total registered capital of 200 billion yuan (S$40.9 billion).

The two governments are collaborating to develop it into an environmentally friendly and resource-efficient city that can be used as a model for sustainable development in other Chinese cities.

The new TEC agreements cover areas such as water resources management, digital media, healthcare, research and development as well as the implementation of a "smart city" masterplan.

Both signing ceremonies were held ahead of an annual high-level bilateral meeting between Singapore and China, which will take place on Monday (Feb 27) in the Chinese capital.

Known as the Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC), the meeting is a platform to discuss ways to deepen and broaden Singapore-China cooperation.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean will co-chair the 13th session with Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli.

The 18th China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park Joint Steering Council (JSC), and the 9th Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city JSC as well as the inaugural Chongqing Connectivity Initiative JSC will also be held on Monday.