As Singapore and Shanghai are open economic and trade hubs, there is huge potential for cooperation between the two cities, their leaders said yesterday at a bilateral meeting which saw five deals to further collaboration signed.
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, speaking at the first meeting of the Singapore-Shanghai Comprehensive Cooperation Council (SSCCC) held at the Xijiao State Guesthouse in Shanghai, said Singapore and Shanghai have a "complementary relationship".
Both have an international outlook, are strategic gateways to their respective regions and have a spirit of openness, he said.
"As the global economic centre of gravity shifts towards Asia, it is timely to explore how Singapore and Shanghai can ride on this wave of growth and deepen our cooperation," said Mr Heng.
"The potential for collaboration between Shanghai and Singapore is huge," he added.
The SSCCC, which Mr Heng co-chairs with Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong, is Singapore's eighth business council with a provincial-level area in China.
RIDING WAVE OF GROWTH TOGETHER
As the global economic centre of gravity shifts towards Asia, it is timely to explore how Singapore and Shanghai can ride on this wave of growth and deepen our cooperation... The potential for collaboration between Shanghai and Singapore is huge.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER HENG SWEE KEAT
It was set up about a month ago when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visited Beijing.
Its launch yesterday also marked a milestone in deepening bilateral ties, said Mr Heng, as he outlined how relations between both countries have grown. In particular, Singapore and Shanghai enjoy deep economic relations, he said.
The key financial and business hub accounts for nearly 14 per cent of Singapore's trade with China, which reached US$13.5 billion (S$18.6 billion) last year. It is also Singapore's second-largest investment destination in the country.
Mr Heng said the SSCCC will strengthen Shanghai's role as the "dragon's head" of the Yangtze River Delta economic zone - an area encompassing neighbouring Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui provinces - and Singapore's position as a node for technology, innovation and enterprise in Asia.
Mr Ying said the two countries are close neighbours that have learnt a lot from each other since they established diplomatic ties 29 years ago. "In recent years, Shanghai and Singapore have become closer and closer. As an important centre for China's reform and opening up, Shanghai's cooperation with Singapore started very early," he said.
Both leaders outlined six areas in which cooperation could be deepened. These are the Belt and Road Initiative, financial connectivity, technology and innovation, improving the ease of doing business, urban governance, and deepening people-to-people exchanges.
"Singapore is known for ease of doing business, and therefore is a role model that we always look up to," said Mr Ying.
He and Mr Heng witnessed the signing of five deals between their government agencies and companies in areas including arbitration, financial services and innovation.
"Building on the strong foundation of business cooperation that we already have, we can take Singapore-Shanghai cooperation to a new level, and take the Singapore-China progressive partnership to a new level," said Mr Heng.
Before yesterday's meeting, Mr Heng met Mr Ying together with members of the Singapore delegation. Later in the day, he attended a topping-out ceremony at Raffles Hospital in Shanghai.
He also met Shanghai party secretary Li Qiang, who said the SSCCC was an "important mechanism" to further relations.
Both sides also agreed that there was room for further cooperation, said Mr Heng's press secretary.
Mr Heng is on an eight-day visit to China, his first to the country since he became Deputy Prime Minister earlier this month.
Today, he is scheduled to make the keynote speech at the Pujiang Innovation Forum, which aims to boost cooperation in science and technology between China and other countries.