S'pore, Aussie infrastructure players urged to join hands for projects

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon said that by working together, Australian and Singapore companies "can capture infrastructure opportunities in the region".
Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon said that by working together, Australian and Singapore companies "can capture infrastructure opportunities in the region".PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Singapore and Australian infrastructure players should work together to reap "significant potential gains" amid the rising demand for development in the region, said Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon.

Dr Koh noted that while Singapore is Australia's top trading partner among Asean countries, there is "still space to build on our strong partnership and expand economic cooperation" in the infrastructure sector.

Global demand for infrastructure investments is projected to grow in areas such as power, telecommunications, utilities and transportation.

The rapidly developing and urbanising Asian markets are expected to contribute to a "sizeable share" of this demand, said Dr Koh, who was speaking at the Australia-Singapore Infrastructure Investment Forum at Marina Bay Sands yesterday.

Demand is also expected to tick up in Australia as its population looks to expand by 20 per cent to around 30 million by 2031.

Dr Koh outlined several ways that Australian companies can tap Singapore for infrastructure expertise.

One is to leverage the financial expertise of the banks: "Singapore-based banks have a deep understanding of Asia's infrastructure needs."

Over the last three years, these banks have collectively provided loans and advisory services for around 60 per cent of infrastructure projects in the region.

Additionally, Singapore is also home to many established engineering and project management companies, as well as international law firms that can provide the relevant services, said Dr Koh.

He cited the Myingyan power plant in Myanmar, led by Sembcorp Utilities, as a project that had successfully tapped the infrastructure expertise available here.

Sembcorp had worked with several developmental and commercial lenders in Singapore, including OCBC and DBS, to finance the project.

It sought legal services from global law firm Mayer Brown and financial advice from auditing giant KPMG.

Dr Koh noted that local companies can also learn from their Australian counterparts, which have expertise in structuring and developing projects.

He added: "I believe all of us would agree that finding the right partners is key to business success. By working together, Australian and Singapore companies can capture infrastructure opportunities in the region."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2018, with the headline 'S'pore, Aussie infrastructure players urged to join hands for projects'. Print Edition | Subscribe