Singapore firms should capitalise on China's shift to consumer-led growth by investing in its services sector, said the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI).
The chamber hopes the upgraded version of the free trade agreement (FTA) that is under discussion will remove more barriers for companies in the financial, logistics and healthcare services sector when they enter the Chinese market.
"We hope that the revised FTA could expand its scope, and lift more restrictions in the modern services sector," said SCCCI president Thomas Chua.
Since Singapore's FTA with China took effect in January 2009, bilateral trade and investments have grown steadily. In 2013 and last year, Singapore was China's largest foreign investor and fourth-largest trading partner in Asia. China remained Singapore's largest trading partner and export destination last year.
Mr Chua pointed out that Singapore has a competitive advantage in services, where the emphasis is on "solutions and knowledge".
Investing in services differs from that in manufacturing and it is an area where Singapore companies could do well in China.
Mr Chua said: "We have been developing our financial sector as well as other related sectors such as insurance and legal services over the past few decades, especially in supporting the multinationals that are investing in Singapore to build their regional operations."
He wants Singapore companies to take advantage of their expertise and further build on the country's branding to expand in China. "This is different from having to compete with countries and regions such as Taiwan and South Korea, which are traditionally strong in manufacturing. This could be an important trend (for Singapore's investments in China), going forward."
Chong Koh Ping