Second minister Iswaran to begin India trip with 'Vibrant Gujarat' summit visit

Second minister for home affairs and trade and industry S Iswaran begins a visit to India on Saturday where he will attend a high profile business summit in West India and further firm up plans by Singapore to develop a new riverfront capital city in
Second minister for home affairs and trade and industry S Iswaran begins a visit to India on Saturday where he will attend a high profile business summit in West India and further firm up plans by Singapore to develop a new riverfront capital city in South India. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

NEW DELHI - Second minister for home affairs and trade and industry S Iswaran begins a visit to India on Saturday where he will attend a high profile business summit in West India and further firm up plans by Singapore to develop a new riverfront capital city in South India.

Mr Iswaran will first visit Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state, which is hosting the seventh annual Vibrant Gujarat Summit.

Leading a delegation of 70 representatives from 40 companies dealing in everything from urban solutions and construction to logistics and IT, he will speak at the summit's opening ceremony.

"This is the first time Singapore is participating as a Partner Country at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit to promote greater bilateral business collaboration and engagement," said a release from Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry.

Half of the 40 Singapore companies are showcasing their expertise at the Singapore Pavilion at the summit.

In Ahmedabad, Mr Iswaran is scheduled to call on Mr Modi and Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel, said the MTI press release.

His trip is the latest in a series of visits between the two countries since Mr Modi came to power in May last year. Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong was in India in September last year while external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj visited Singapore in August.

Singapore and India share close economic ties that expanded rapidly after the two countries signed a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement in 2005

Total trade between India and Singapore stands at more than S$25 billion per year, making Singapore India's largest trade and investment partner in ASEAN.

Economic ties are expected to further expand as the Modi government embarks on a series of initiatives to open up different sectors such as defence and foreign investment.

From Ahmedabad, Mr Iswaran will travel to the southern city of Hyderabad to meet Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu for "a discussion on the partnership between Singapore and Andhra Pradesh in master planning and developing the new capital city and surrounding region", said the MTI release.

The southern state is is set to lose its current capital, Hyderabad, to Telangana, which was carved out from it in June last year to become India's 29th state. Andhra Pradesh has a decade to develop its own capital.

Under an agreement signed last month, Singapore will help the state develop a master plan for 7,325 sq km of a state capital region.

nganapathy@sph.com.sg