Guangxi, S'pore tie-ups to open trade route to Asean

A port in China's Guangxi province.
A port in China's Guangxi province.PHOTO: REUTERS

South China region also key to Chongqing Connectivity Initiative

Southern China's Guangxi region offers significant trade opportunities, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon said yesterday.

Dr Koh told the China (Guangxi) - Singapore Economic and Trade Cooperation Conference that Guangxi, an autonomous region bordering Vietnam, has strategic land and sea links to the Asean region and is "an important node" in Singapore and China's Chongqing Connectivity Initiative.

Yesterday's conference followed an April meeting where IE Singapore and the Guangxi regional government agreed to look into a proposed transport corridor that will connect the south-western city of Chongqing with Singapore by way of Guangxi.

Freight carried overland from Chongqing to Guangxi's Qinzhou port by rail could be shipped into Asean via the Gulf of Tonkin, known in Chinese as the Beibu Gulf.

"Under (China's) new One Belt, One Road framework, there are unprecedented new opportunities for cooperation between Singapore and Guangxi," Dr Koh said in Mandarin.

Pacific International Lines also made a pact in April to develop a Singapore-Guangxi Integrated Logistics Park in Guangxi's Nanning city. The park "will robustly drive the momentum of trade logistics brought about by the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative", said Dr Koh.

TANGIBLE BENEFITS

As Singapore businesses, we look forward to Guangxi taking advantage of its strategic maritime access for western China to enhance its influence and promote trade between China and Asean, to bring concrete benefits to enterprises in both regions.

PACIFIC INTERNATIONAL LINES MANAGING DIRECTOR TEO SIONG SENG

Pacific International Lines managing director Teo Siong Seng said: "Right now, most One Belt, One Road projects are government-led, especially large-scale infrastructure-building projects between the countries concerned."

But as more businesses get involved, there will be more innovation and cooperation.

"Singapore may not be as strong as China in terms of innovation and creative ideas, but it is very experienced in implementing innovation," Mr Teo added.

"As Singapore businesses, we look forward to Guangxi taking advantage of its strategic maritime access for western China to enhance its influence and promote trade between China and Asean, to bring concrete benefits to enterprises in both regions."

Business China chairman Lee Yi Shyan said the proposed transport corridor has "strategic value for regional cooperation prospects".

"One important detail is to actively participate in the development of Guangxi and the construction of the Southern Transport Corridor," added Mr Lee, who is also an MP for East Coast GRC.

The corridor is expected to be a major logistics channel for electronics, furniture and building materials, among other products, said Mr Zhou Xiaoxi, chairman of the Beibu Gulf Port Group.

Along the same route, a new rail link connects Chongqing to Qinzhou, where Pacific International Lines, PSA International and Beibu Gulf Port Group have a container terminal joint venture.

Mr Ma Jixian, deputy director-general of the Guangxi Department of Commerce, said other trade-friendly measures could include adopting one-stop customs clearance points along the southern route.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2017, with the headline 'Guangxi, S'pore tie-ups to open trade route to Asean'. Print Edition | Subscribe