Singapore is working with Chongqing to set up a single electronic window to connect the south-western Chinese city's economy with Singapore through data sharing, making for easier and more efficient Customs clearance.
Such a platform will pave the way for a logistics chain linking South-east Asia through Singapore to Chongqing and western China, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing said yesterday.
Mr Chan, who is on a three-day visit to China that ends tomorrow, was speaking at a seminar in Chongqing held by the Singapore Business Federation.
The electronic window is the latest development in the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative (CCI), the third Singapore and China government-to-government project after Suzhou Industrial Park and Tianjin Eco-City.
Launched in November 2015, the Chongqing project aims to stimulate the growth of the less developed western region in China through better transport, financing and data connectivity.
Mr Chan said the project has lowered financing costs for businesses in Chongqing by an average of 0.7 per cent since its inception.
It has also opened up a new logistics route - via rail from Chongqing to southern Guangxi, and onwards to Singapore by sea.
With this new Southern Transport Corridor, it takes just a week for goods to be sent from Chongqing to Singapore, instead of the three weeks needed to ferry goods from Chongqing via river to Shanghai, and then to Singa-pore by sea.
Mr Chan stressed that the initiative is "not a zero-sum game", and urged firms to use the new route for greater economies of scale.
He urged Singapore businessmen to work with local firms to "fully exploit" the potential of south-western China, which covers two-thirds of the country's vast land area and is home to one-third of the nearly 1.4 billion population.
"If the coastal cities are getting crowded and expensive, this is the place to launch new frontiers for bilateral cooperation," he said.
He added that opportunities for Singapore firms to work with Chinese companies are not just limited to investments in China. There is also great potential for companies from both countries to take investments outward to Singapore, South-east Asia and beyond, he said.
Yesterday, Mr Chan also met Chongqing party boss Chen Min'er and Mayor Tang Liangzhi.
"We agreed that the CCI is making good progress and noted the strong potential to deepen our collaboration to spur progress of the Southern Transport Corridor as part of China's Belt and Road Initiative," Mr Chan said in a statement after the meetings.
Mr Chen noted that Mr Chan's visit is timely, after Chinese President Xi Jinping and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met at the Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan on Tuesday.
He pointed out that the CCI fits in well with what Mr Xi said about placing strong emphasis on major government projects, and deepening cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative.
"Mr Xi also mentioned working together on the Southern Transport Corridor... The strategic direction set by leaders of our two countries will be carried out through the CCI project," he added.
Yesterday, Mr Chan also attended the opening of the Chongqing chapter of the Singapore Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China.
Today, he will be in Lanzhou, the provincial capital of western Gansu province, to meet Gansu Governor Tang Renjian to discuss the province's participation in the Southern Transport Corridor. Three western provinces - Gansu, Guangxi and Guizhou - and Chongqing city agreed to collaborate on the development of the new transport route last September.
Mr Chan will also meet Sichuan party boss Peng Qinghua in Chengdu after his visit to Gansu.