Singapore hopes to promote trade ties with China and other countries through a trade fair that will open in Shanghai next week, said Minister of Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing.
The China International Import Expo marks the first time that the world's second-largest economy is holding a major trade event solely focused on attracting imports.
"This expo is a very useful platform. It not only introduces Singaporean companies to China, but more importantly, it is also a platform for Singaporean companies to get to know Chinese companies and companies outside China," said Mr Chan in Mandarin in a video interview with Xinhuanet, an affiliate of Chinese state news agency Xinhua.
More than 80 Singapore companies will take part in the fair, which will be held from Monday to Nov 10. Mr Chan will lead a delegation to Shanghai in conjunction with the fair.
In the interview published yesterday, Mr Chan said the trade fair marks an important milestone for China as its economy transitions.
Forty years ago, the country was focused on attracting foreign investments and making products for export. Today, it not only continues to attract foreign investments, but is also actively taking financial services and investments overseas.
And as the Chinese market grows in size and diversity, many countries are also looking to export their goods to China, said Mr Chan.
This in turn binds the Chinese economy more closely with the global economy, he added.
Some people may wonder about the significance of this import fair to Singapore, given that the Republic does not produce many goods.
But Mr Chan said products made in Singapore compete not on quantity or price.
"We rely on quality and our innovation. Singapore's economic model is different from other countries as we are a relatively small country. So our competitive advantage is our quality, our trustworthiness and our innovation," he said.
Mr Chan said Singapore is actively exploring how to work with China to jointly invest in third countries. And such investments are not limited to infrastructure projects.
"The more important aspect is software investments," he said, referring to technical know-how in areas such as financial and legal services.
He noted that there is great room for Singapore and China to cooperate in investing in third countries under the Belt and Road Initiative.
"In fact, we have already started preparations in South-east Asia. There are several places where commercial evaluations are under way. We will make an announcement when there are more concrete results," he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Chan noted that Chinese companies are actively using Singapore as a platform to invest in South-east Asia.
While these companies invest in projects in the region, they base their commercial contracts in Singapore. "They use Singapore's legal system as a platform to give them more confidence in investing in these third countries," he said.
Going forward, Mr Chan said the business chambers of both countries can work more closely together to jointly take smaller and younger companies to third countries.
Chinese companies often get to know the potential of the Singapore platform and how to better use Singapore's financial services and legal services to expand their businesses through meetings organised by the business chambers.
"Business chambers can play a catalytic role in this case," he said.
Singapore and China will likely conclude their free trade agreement upgrade later this month, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing.