Singapore companies looking to Chinese province Liaoning for growth

SINGAPORE - Companies from Singapore are making inroads into China's northeast province of Liaoning, according to trade promotion agency International Enterprise (IE) Singapore.

The agency has helped four Singapore firms - Ascott Residence Trust, Crestar Education Group, MapleTree and Q&M Dental Group - to expand their presence in the province, it said in a statement on Thursday.

IE Singapore noted that as China steers its economic growth model towards greater domestic consumption, there has been a progressive shift in Liaoning's economic landscape to focus more on the services sector.

This shift has been buoyed by the increasing demand for quality services from a more affluent population and a growing foreign community, it added.

The Liaoning government has laid out specific plans to develop its services sector earlier this year, including boosting resources for its preschool system and devoting more resources to healthcare.

To explore partnership opportunities in Liaoning's services sector, Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin is making a five-day visit to the region from Wednesday to Sunday. He is visiting in his capacity as the Singapore co-chairman of the Singapore-Liaoning Economic and Trade Council.

Mr Tan said the province holds great potential for Singapore firms and encouraged companies to consider the business opportunities available.

"Being the most developed province in northeast China, Liaoning acts as the gateway to the region and provides good opportunities," he said. "In close proximity to Japan and South Korea, the population's exposure to these sophisticated markets and their growing affluence have created a demand for quality services."

Mr Tan will also officially open the Somerset Grand Central Dalian, managed by Ascott, on Thursday. In addition, he will attend the opening ceremonies of Aoxin Q&M Children Dentistry Centre and Crestar's ELFA Shenyang Silver River City Preschool.

He will also witness Mapletree's signing of a memorandum of understanding with a district government for the proposed development of a modern logistics park in Shenyang.

On the trip, Mr Tan will also call on Liaoning's deputy party secretary and acting governor Li Xi, Dalian party secretary Tang Jun, Shenyang mayor Chen Haibo, and Dandong mayor Shi Guang.

Economic ties between Singapore and Liaoning have been growing in recent years. Bilateral trade last year expanded 40.2 per cent to reach US$4.1 billion (S$5.1 billion), IE Singapore said.

Investments by Singapore companies into Liaoning also increased by 198 per cent last year to US$1.1 billion, making Singapore the eighth largest foreign investor in Liaoning.

Singapore's cumulative actual investments into the city amounted to US$4.3 billion with a total of 904 projects at the end of last year.

Liaoning enjoyed strong economic growth of 8.7 per cent in 2013, with gross domestic product per capita at US$9,933.

The province's growth has been fuelled by its manufacturing sector, which is home to many multinational corporations including BMW, Intel and Pfizer.