Singapore and India have called for deeper economic ties between the two countries and indicated that they are moving together into areas such as start-ups and innovation as well as digital connectivity.
Describing their economic partnership as "the heartbeat" of the relationship between Singapore and India, visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said last night: "The two lions (Singapore and India) should step into the future together."
The Indian leader told some 4,500 businessmen at a Singapore-India business event at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre that India has made huge economic progress, becoming a nation of innovation and start-ups, entrepreneurs and skilled workers, with "sweeping" digitalisation touching every aspect of life.
It was time to upgrade the Singapore-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, the first such pact that India has inked with any country, he said.
Noting the great advance in the economic partnership between the two nations, Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations S. Iswaran called for building on synergies and strengths, for example, in the area of start-ups and innovation. "India's start-up scene has boomed in the past decade, and it is now the third-largest start-up ecosystem globally," he noted. India is projected to have 10,000 start-ups by 2020, which presents opportunities for cooperation with Singapore start-ups.
The enterprise development agency, Enterprise Singapore, will soon roll out the Singapore-India Incubation Programme to help Singapore start-ups break into the Indian market, he said. It will also "catalyse collaborations between the respective ecosystems for the joint creation and development of innovative solutions".
Mr Iswaran also said Singapore firms should continue to support India's digitalisation efforts, especially in niche areas such as e-payments security, smart city management and e-commerce.
The Singapore Business Federation also signed three initiatives at the event.
Trade between Singapore and India jumped 14.6 per cent last year to $25 billion. Singapore's investments in India rose from $22.7 billion in 2014 to $36.3 billion in 2016.
Mr Modi, who arrived yesterday at the invitation of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, toured an innovation exhibition before addressing the business event.
Mr Modi is due to call on President Halimah Yacob and lunch with PM Lee today. He will also deliver the keynote address at the 17th International Institute for Strategic Studies Shangri-La Dialogue today.