S'pore firms in Beijing to seek project tie-ups

IE Singapore has signed agreements with banks such as the Bank of China and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (above) for $90 billion worth of financing services for Singapore-China One Belt, One Road projects.
IE Singapore has signed agreements with banks such as the Bank of China and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (above) for $90 billion worth of financing services for Singapore-China One Belt, One Road projects.PHOTO: REUTERS

Singapore has taken its courtship of China's ambitious One Belt, One Road projects to Beijing.

Trade agency International Enterprise (IE) Singapore led 14 Singapore companies to the Chinese capital on Saturday to court partners for collaborations focusing on infrastructure and connectivity projects in South-east Asia.

The Singapore companies are involved in sectors such as infrastructure, transport and logistics and included Ascendas-Singbridge, Ascott, Keppel Land Meinhardt, Surbana Jurong and YCH Group.

They met 18 Chinese state-owned enterprises and private enterprises, such as the China Railway Corporation, China Machinery Engineering Corporation and Ping An Bank.

The Straits Times understands that representatives of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and China Development Bank were also present at the roundtable, which was co-organised by the National Development and Reform Commission's International Cooperation Centre (NDRC-ICC).

The One Belt, One Road initiative, comprising the overland Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, was unveiled by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013. It aims to encourage Chinese companies to increase the country's connectivity and trade with nations along these two routes.

Singapore - on the Maritime Silk Road linking China to South-east Asia - hopes to get a slice of the large pie of financing set aside for One Belt, One Road projects.

Dr Liu Jianxing, NDRC-ICC deputy director-general, welcomed Singapore's role: "Singapore plays a critical role in our initiative. First, we can learn from its experience in socio-economic development, urban development and management, and governance.

"Second, Singapore's understanding and network of South-east Asia complements Chinese enterprises' strengths in large-scale infrastructure projects holistically."

IE Singapore co-organised its first One Belt, One Road roundtable with China Construction Bank here in April. More than 30 Singapore and Chinese firms discussed infrastructure and connectivity projects.

The trade agency has high hopes to develop Singapore into the region's leading infrastructure financing hub. It has signed agreements with three major Chinese banks, including the Bank of China and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, to set aside $90 billion worth of financing services to support Singapore and Chinese companies in One Belt, One Road projects.

The China Construction Bank will set up a centre here - its first outside of China - to provide financing and professional services for some One Belt, One Road infrastructure investments. The centre is expected to open next year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2016, with the headline 'S'pore firms in Beijing to seek project tie-ups'. Print Edition | Subscribe