BEIJING - Singapore's experience working on the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative (CCI) has shown that physical infrastructure must be complemented with good systems and a network of partners to succeed, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon said at the Belt and Road Forum on Thursday (April 25).
Speaking at a discussion about improving infrastructure links, he said that the value of goods moving within Asia has now exceeded that of trade with external countries.
Dr Koh urged countries in the region to improve infrastructure to encourage intra-regional trade.
For instance, customs authorities should work together to optimise processes and cut duplicate checks so that cargo crosses borders more smoothly.
The CCI's New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor (CCI-ILSTC) links Chongqing to Guangxi by rail and Guangxi to Singapore and the rest of South-east Asia by sea, thus connecting the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
The multi-modal nature of the CCI also spotlighted the importance of closing last-mile choke points. For instance, goods moved between rail and sea at Qinzhou port in Guangxi saw delays as an infrastructure gap meant cargo had to be trucked from the railway station to sea port.
The bottleneck is being addressed by extending the rail line so it meets the port, Dr Koh said.
To make the network more effective, Singapore has teamed up with eight western Chinese provinces as well as the central government, as more users mean greater economies of scale and lower costs.
"This is a positively reinforcing cycle and we welcome more partners, be it companies, provinces or countries, to make the CCI-ILSTC a bigger success," he said.