Innovation corridor, business council to help Singapore expand economic ties with India's Andhra Pradesh

NEW DELHI - Singapore companies will be able to pilot innovative urban solutions in the capital city of Andhra Pradesh, with an eye to expanding these to other parts of India and beyond, under a new initiative launched on Monday (Feb 26).

The Innovation Corridor was launched during the visit of Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran to the southern Indian state, to broaden economic cooperation between the two sides.

Under the Innovation Corridor, Singapore companies can develop and pitch solutions based on challenges identified in the building of Andhra Pradesh's capital city Amaravati and selected solutions will be piloted in the city, said IE Singapore in a statement. Officials from Andhra Pradesh and Singapore will identify development projects and implement them in Amaravati.

Mr Iswaran met Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and Federal Minister for Commerce and Industry Suresh Prabhu during his visit, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said in a statement.

The Singapore minister, who is in India on a two-day visit starting from Sunday, also witnessed the signing of two agreements together with Mr Naidu.

One was the setting up of the Andhra Pradesh-Singapore Business Council by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Singapore Business Federation. This aims to drive private-sector business collaboration to strengthen Singapore-Andhra Pradesh economic ties.

The second was an agreement between Singapore firm Food Empire's wholly-owned subsidiary Indus Coffee and the Andhra Pradesh government to build a new coffee powder production plant in Nellore in Andhra Pradesh.

"I am delighted that we are bringing our relationship to another level and step forward through the two MOUs that we have just concluded to widen the economic collaboration," said Mr Iswaran at the Partnership Summit, an investment summit in the city of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.

He added: "Amaravati is of special significance in the Singapore-Andhra Pradesh partnership, and it is one that is growing from strength to strength".

Ties between Singapore and Andhra Pradesh, a state of about 50 million people, have been deepening on the back of a collaboration to develop Amaravati, which is coming up from scratch across agricultural lands.

Singapore has been involved in the project since 2014, with Surbana Jurong submitting the city's master plan in 2015. Last year, a consortium of Ascendas-Singbridge and Sembcorp Development was announced as the master developers for a 6.84 sq km start-up area.

Mr Iswaran also announced that the Singapore consortium will shortly start the development of a visitor centre and exhibition gallery at the Amaravati Capital City Start-Up Area.

Andhra Pradesh is one of the fastest-growing states in India, with a state gross domestic product growth of 11.6 per cent in 2016, above the national average of 7.1 per cent, said IE Singapore. It added that the state has consistently been ranked among the top Indian states in which to do business.