BEIJING - Singapore and China have launched two new projects to expand Chongqing's transport links to Southeast Asia and Central Asia.
The two projects are part of 10 commercial pacts signed on Sunday (Feb 26) in Beijing between companies from Singapore and the south-west municipality. The total value of the 10 deals are worth about US$1.4 billion (S$1.97 billion).
Known as the Chongqing Logistics Development Platform (CLDP) and the Multi-Modal Distribution and Connectivity Centre (DC), the two projects are borne out of the Transport and Logistics Masterplan for the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative (CCI).
The CLDP, a company set up to do logistics planning, will develop standards and best practices for the transport and logistics industry. The DC is a logistics hub that caters to different transport modes such as river, rail, air and road, said IE Singapore.
The CCI is Singapore and China's third joint project, started in November 2015, after Suzhou Industrial Park and Tianjin Eco-City. It aims to help drive growth in China's less developed western region by improving Chongqing's transport and services links to the region and beyond.
"The two projects raise Chongqing's status as a key inland logistics hub for western China, and also contribute to China's Belt and Road initiative," said Mr Lee Ark Boon, chief executive of International Enterprise Singapore, the agency facilitating commercial projects from the CCI office.
The Belt and Road Initiative is an ambitious blueprint driven by Chinese president Xi Jinping that aims to bolster global trade by connecting China with Asia, Europe and Africa through land and sea routes.
The city of Chongqing is situated on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River in western China. It is a key node linking China to Europe through a network of roads and rail across Central Asia on an overland route. It is also connected to Southeast Asia through a highway that connects to the port city of Qinzhou in southern Guangxi.
IE Singapore will form a work group with the Chongqing Municipal Government to oversee and support the roll-out of these two projects.
"We hope that the two projects will serve as a model for future cooperation and play a leading role in spearheading other similar projects," said Mr Tang Zongwei, chairman of the Chongqing Liangjiang New Area Development and Investment Group. The company is participating in both projects together with other Singapore and Chongqing players.
Mr Teo Siong Seng, managing director of Singapore company Pacific International Lines (PIL), which is also a signatory to both projects, said: "The two projects signals a breakthrough in cooperation between both sides."
He observed that in the past, cooperation projects tend to be investment-heavy, but in this case, it is the combination of a project that focuses on planning and does not require intensive capital outlay, and one that requires more capital investment.
"It is also notable that the projects bring together leading players in both Singapore and Chongqing, who would otherwise be competitors (in the transport and logistics industry)," said Mr Teo, who is also chairman of the Singapore Business Federation and industry adviser to the CCI.
The other eight agreements signed on Sunday cover areas in transport and logistics, information and communication technology, finance and healthcare.
One of them is a deal between Singapore Press Holdings and Chongqing-based e-commerce company ZhuBajie Net. The two have set up a joint-venture company for a bilingual business-to-business online creative services platform targeted at small and medium-sized enterprises in Singapore, Malaysia and other parts of Southeast Asia.
On Sunday, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing and Chongqing Mayor Zhang Guoqing witnessed the signing ceremony of the 10 projects at a hotel in Beijing.
The signing ceremony was held ahead of an annual high-level bilateral meeting between Singapore and China, which will take place on Monday (Feb 27) in the Chinese capital.
Known as the Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC), the meeting is a platform to discuss ways to deepen and broaden Singapore-China cooperation.
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean will co-chair the 13th session with Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli.
The 18th China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park Joint Steering Council (JSC), and the 9th Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city JSC as well as the inaugural Chongqing Connectivity Initiative JSC will also be held on Monday.