SHANGHAI - As open economic and trade hubs, Singapore and Shanghai have huge potential for cooperation, the leaders from both sides said at a bilateral meeting on Friday (May 24) where five deals to further collaboration were signed.
Speaking at the first meeting of the Singapore-Shanghai Comprehensive Cooperation Council (SSCCC) held at the Xijiao State Guesthouse in Shanghai, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat 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... The potential for collaboration between Shanghai and Singapore is huge," said Mr Heng.
The SSCCC, which Mr Heng co-chairs with Shanghai mayor Ying Yong, is Singapore's eighth and newest business council with a provincial-level area in China. It was established about a month ago when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visited Beijing.
The launch of the SSCCC on Friday also marks a milestone in deepening bilateral ties, said Mr Heng, as he outlined how relations between both countries have grown.
Mr Heng said the SSCCC will strengthen Shanghai's role as the "dragon's head" of the Yangtze River Delta region, and Singapore's position as a node for technology, innovation and enterprise in Asia.
Shanghai lies at the heart of the Yangtze River Delta economic zone, an area that encompasses neighbouring Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui provinces.
Meanwhile, SSCCC co-chair Mr Ying said China and Singapore were close neighbours that have learnt a lot from each other since both sides 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.
The city is a key financial and business hub in China, and accounts for nearly 14 per cent of Singapore's trade with China, reaching US$13.5 billion (S$18.6 billion) last year.
Both leaders outlined six areas where they could deepen cooperation, namely, on 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.
During the meeting, both he and Mr Heng witnessed the signing of five deals between their government agencies and companies in areas including arbitration, financial services and innovation.
The inaugural meeting was attended by officials and business representatives, and discussed issues including the Belt and Road Initiative, financial cooperation, technology and innovation, and the ease of doing business.
"Building on the strong foundation of business cooperation between 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 the SSCCC meeting on Friday, Mr Heng also met the Shanghai leader along with members of the Singapore delegation.
The Deputy Prime Minister is on an eight-day visit to China, his first to the country since he assumed his position earlier this month.