More clarity for OBOR opportunities

The night skyline of the Pudong financial area in Shanghai, China. OBOR has been on the table since 2013, but many SMEs are still wondering how to latch on to lucrative projects under China's ambitious initiative.
The night skyline of the Pudong financial area in Shanghai, China. OBOR has been on the table since 2013, but many SMEs are still wondering how to latch on to lucrative projects under China's ambitious initiative.PHOTO: ST FILE

One Belt, One Road (OBOR) has been on the table since 2013, but many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are still wondering how to latch on to lucrative projects under China's ambitious initiative.

Mr Ho Chee Hin, IE Singapore's China group director, outlined Singapore's strategy and the available opportunities for companies.

"The Chinese government has put aside a lot of money to provide financing to OBOR projects... One of our strategies is to engage the banks," he said.

IE Singapore has signed agreements with Chinese banks, making available $90 billion for Singapore and Chinese companies for OBOR projects.

"The funding is for Singapore-Chinese ventures in general but the banks will selectively look at ventures without Chinese content," Mr Ho said.

The second key aspect is IE Singapore's focus on creating commercial discussion. "We curate interested Singapore and Chinese companies for them to explore business opportunities together," he said.

Mr Ho said SMEs can work with bigger Singapore firms.

"To work with the Chinese, you need a Singapore company that is sizeable. For SMEs, they can go on their coat-tails and work with these Singaporean companies to participate in their supply chain."

As for some companies' puzzlement at which body is leading the OBOR initiative, Mr Ho clarified that China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is the coordinating body for OBOR projects.

The International Cooperation Centre, which is part of the NDRC, acts like "a statutory body which works with external parties to facilitate formation of OBOR projects".

Lee Xin En

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2016, with the headline 'More clarity for OBOR opportunities'. Print Edition | Subscribe