Singapore-Zhejiang relationship grows over 15 years

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong officiating during the opening ceremony for the Asendas Singapore Hangzhou Science and Technology Park with Hangzhou Mayor Cai Qi (right) and other dignitaries, on June 5, 2009. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

ZHEJIANG - Zhejiang may have just launched its Singapore station, but official dialogue aimed at growing economic links has been going on for nearly 15 years.

The two cities started the Singapore-Zhejiang Economic & Trade Council in 2003, with the first meeting taking place in Singapore that November. In the same month, a Zhejiang Centre was set up in Singapore with the aim of helping Zhejiang companies venture abroad, start representative offices in Singapore and list in the Republic's stock market.

China's fourth largest province by GDP, Zhejiang is also today one of the most vibrant provinces for private companies. It accounted for 120 of China's top 500 private enterprises this year, taking first place for 19 consecutive years.

Zhejiang has been an important investment destination for many Singapore firms. Both the Singapore-Hangzhou Science and Technology Park and Raffles City Hangzhou were Ascendas' and CapitaLand's largest investments in China respectively when they were launched a decade ago. As of June (2017), Singapore had a total of 1,178 projects in the province.

According to IE Singapore, Singapore's investments have grown more than 4 per cent year-on-year to reach US$510 million in 2016, with cumulative investments exceeding US$5.2 billion.

Already an e-commerce powerhouse - ranked second in the country in online retail turnover - Zhejiang announced last month that it will introduce new laws to promote further growth in the area, such as through financing mechanisms and human resource training.

The 12th SZETC meeting will take place Friday (Dec 1) in Singapore at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, and will be co-chaired by Senior Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth as well as Trade and Industry, Sim Ann, and Zhejiang Vice-Governor Liang Liming.

Among the areas of discussion will be opportunities for closer cooperation between both sides under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), particularly in professional services, cross-border e-commerce and innovation, said IE Singapore.

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