Singapore and Nanjing agree to deepen collaboration, companies ink multimillion-dollar MOUs

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon (left) witnessed the signing of the MOUs together with Nanjing mayor Lan Shaomin. ST PHOTO: DANSON CHEONG

NANJING - Singapore and Nanjing have agreed to deepen collaboration, with seven Singapore companies and an educational institution inking deals in such areas as clean technology, logistics and innovation here on Thursday (May 31).

The memorandums of understanding involved projects amounting to US$230.25 million (S$308.17 million), and were signed at the sixth Singapore-Nanjing Special Projects Cooperation Panel (SNCP) meeting.

The SNCP, established in 2013, is the only city-level cooperation platform that Singapore has with China, and aims to boost cooperation through special projects. It comes under the Singapore-Jiangsu Cooperation Council, one of the seven bilateral business councils that Singapore has set up with Chinese provinces.

Three of the deals inked on Thursday involved projects on the Singapore-Nanjing Eco Hi-Tech Island (SNEHTI), a provincial-level development zone supported by the Singapore, Jiangsu and Nanjing governments. Nanjing is the capital city of Jiangsu province.

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon, who witnessed the signing of the MOUs together with Nanjing mayor Lan Shaomin, said the deals "reflect a deepening and the broadening of the relationship between Singapore and Nanjing".

"We are moving from traditional industrial park development or property management, into the cutting edge... creating an ecosystem to support entrepreneurship, incubators, accelerators and technologies like artificial intelligence," he said.

Dr Koh, who co-chaired the SNCP meeting with Mr Lan, made these comments to Singapore media after the deals were signed.

One of the deals, between Sembcorp Properties and Chinese firm Umore Cleantech Consulting, has to do with developing an innovation centre that will help water companies commercialise their solutions for the Chinese market, Enterprise Singapore (ESG) said in a statement on Thursday. Others include agreements to set up innovation centres and research labs.

Some of these centres will be located on the SNEHTI, a 13.54 sq km zone being constructed on an island in the middle of the Yangtze River. Construction began in 2009 and is expected to be completed in 2020.

Dr Koh said the island could be a testbed for clean technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) and, as it is developed, could tap on Singapore's experience and be a model for sustainable development.

He added that Singapore companies can "tap on the growing AI ecosystem in Nanjing" and find partners in the city.

Mr Lan, in his speech at the SNCP meeting, invited Singapore businesses to choose Nanjing, particularly the SNEHTI, as the site for their projects.

"I hope the development of the island will improve relations between Singapore and Nanjing, and both sides will work hard to build the island into an international industrial park, development platform and model area," said Mr Lan.

At an earlier meeting with Dr Koh, Mr Lan also said Singapore was an important source of foreign investment for Nanjing and he hoped there would be more comprehensive cooperation in future.

Singapore companies have been investing in sectors including education, real estate and medical services in the city since the 1970s.

Today, Singapore is Nanjing's fourth largest foreign investor, with 390 projects in the city reaching $4.02 billion in cumulative investments, said ESG.

Dr Koh is in Nanjing with Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat. They will attend the inaugural Sino-Singapore Artificial Intelligence Forum on Friday (June 1).

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