SINGAPORE - The Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) and the Bank of China have inked an agreement to help Singapore businesses make inroads into the China market.
This was announced at the Singapore China Business Forum on Monday (July 3) morning, organised by the SCCCI, to examine how businesses here can leverage on China's "Belt & Road" initiative to engage and partner Chinese businesses in exploring market opportunities in the region.
Said SCCCI president Roland Ng, speaking in Mandarin: "In the next three years, the Bank of China will provide credit advice to SCCCI members. The bank will also leverage on its global network to help member companies go to China and countries along One Belt, One Road to invest."
"Henceforth, there will be even more Chinese enterprises entering the South-east Asian market, and this market happens to be a place that Singapore businesses are very familiar with."
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Speaking to the media, Mr Ng pointed to regional neighbours such as Thailand, Laos and Cambodia as South-east Asian countries near China that could benefit from the connection.
In May, the SCCCI signed a memorandum of understanding with the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry to improve information-sharing between the two bodies and give a boost to Singaporean investment opportunities in Laos.
"Many of the (One Belt, One Road) large-scale projects are currently concentrated in the infrastructure sector," Mr Ng told reporters. "We hope that with the increase of cross-border collaboration, we will be able to see the participation of other industries and sectors. This will include support for small and medium-sized enterprises.
Mr Ng identified the south-western Chinese city of Chongqing as a key link in One Belt, One Road.
Having opened a representative office there, SCCCI is sending a delegation of about 30 companies to Chongqing this month to study investment opportunities, he said.
Mr Ng added that the city could give Singapore businesses a foot in the door when it comes to the market in western China, while helping businesses there expand overseas by way of Singapore.
One business that stands to benefit is Sats Cargo's Coolport, which manages cold-chain handling of perishable food and pharmaceutical air freight.
Ms Winnie Pang, head of Coolport, said that she looks forward to Singapore businesses' potential move into western China.
"We see Chongqing as China's connection to Europe and the Middle East," she said, especially in terms of cargo trans-shipment routes.
In his keynote address, China Institute of International Studies director Li Ziguo reiterated that an economic push into western China will open up a new frontier for growth, "promoting the western region's development and security".
One Belt, One Road could improve connectivity to western China, he said. "The move turns the region's geographical disadvantage, to some extent, into an advantage," he added. "It would promote domestic and international capital flows to western China."
Mr Li also looked at challenges to One Belt, One Road collaboration, such as environmental issues, political instability and rocky relations on the world stage.
Also, as Chinese enterprises expand internationally, Chinese domestic industry must be upgraded, he said, with different sectors distributed across the country to reduce competition in the same areas and to enhance the production chain.