Singapore businesses will find it easier to crack the Chinese market, thanks to an agreement signed yesterday.
The tie-up between the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) and the Bank of China will allow chamber members to get help from the lender when they venture to the mainland.
The deal, inked at yesterday's Singapore China Business Forum, is also an attempt to help local companies take advantage of the opportunities presented by China's ambitious One Belt, One Road initiative.
SCCCI president Roland Ng said at the event: "In the next three years, the Bank of China will provide credit advice to SCCCI members... (and) leverage on its global network to help member companies go to China and countries along One Belt, One Road to invest."
Mr Ng also said ahead of the forum that neighbours such as Thailand, Laos and Cambodia could benefit from the connection between Singapore and Beijing.
He expanded on these remarks at the event, noting: "Henceforth, there will be even more Chinese enterprises entering the South-east Asian market, and this market happens to be a place that Singapore businesses are very familiar with."
In May, the SCCCI signed a memorandum of understanding with the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry to improve information-sharing and boost Singapore investment opportunities in Laos.
Many of the (One Belt, One Road) large-scale projects are currently concentrated in the infrastructure sector... We hope that with the increase of cross-border collaboration, we will be able to see the participation of other industries and sectors.''
SCCCI PRESIDENT ROLAND NG
"Many of the (One Belt, One Road) large-scale projects are currently concentrated in the infrastructure sector," Mr Ng said. "We hope that with the increase of cross-border collaboration, we will be able to see the participation of other industries and sectors."
This will include small and medium-sized enterprises.
Mr Ng identified the south-western Chinese city of Chongqing as a key link in One Belt, One Road.
The chamber has opened an office there and is sending a delegation of about 30 companies this month to study investment opportunities in the area.
He added that Chongqing could give Singapore businesses a foot in the door when it comes to the market in western China, while helping businesses there expand overseas by way of Singapore.
Mr Li Ziguo, from the China Institute of International Studies think-tank, which is part of China's Foreign Affairs Ministry, told the forum that One Belt, One Road could improve connectivity and "promote domestic and international capital flows to western China".
Mr Chia Kim Huat, regional head of corporate and transactional practice at Rajah & Tann Singapore, advised those present not to think of One Belt, One Road as involving only China and a few other countries. Referring to China's "Go Out" policy of encouraging its companies to expand globally, he said: "It's not just about going out, but also about going in."
One business that stands to benefit is Sats Cargo's Coolport, which manages cold-chain handling of air freight.
Ms Winnie Pang, the head of Coolport, told a panel discussion at the forum: "We see Chongqing as China's connection to Europe and the Middle East."