Canadian trade minister seeks closer ties, investments from Singapore manufacturers

Ms Mary Ng said ties between the two countries have become stronger amid the pandemic that has given rise to new areas of collaboration.
Ms Mary Ng said ties between the two countries have become stronger amid the pandemic that has given rise to new areas of collaboration.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - It is in the mutual interest of Singapore and Canada to grow their trade and economic relations while working together on strengthening a global rule-based trading system, said Ms Mary Ng, the Canadian Minister for Small Businesses, Export Promotion and International Trade.

"There are both an immense interest and an opportunity in strengthening the economic and cultural ties between our countries, from working together to bolster rules-based trade to working on collaborations like our (memorandum of understanding) on infrastructure in building smart cities," Ms Ng said on Thursday (Feb 4) at a webinar organised by the Singapore Manufacturing Federation.

She said the ties between the two countries have become stronger amid the coronavirus pandemic that has given rise to new areas of collaboration.

"It's very clear that both of our countries recognise the importance of addressing the pandemic by supporting our people and our businesses. But we also know that we must plan for a sustainable and inclusive recovery that creates jobs and generates wealth well into the future," she said.

Ms Ng, who has been a Cabinet minister since July 2018, said that throughout the Covid-19 crisis she had been in close contact with her Singaporean counterpart, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, as well as other ministers.

Both countries recognise the need to collaborate and bolster trade and investment relations to create jobs and opportunities for big and small businesses, she said.

Ms Ng, who moved with her parents to Canada from Hong Kong, said Singapore is Canada's largest destination of foreign direct investment in South-east Asia.

The value of Canada's bilateral merchandise trade with Singapore reached $2.53 billion, and services trade $3.07 billion, in 2018.

She said the relationship between the two nations has been carved out by many great businesses.

She gave the examples of Manulife Singapore, which employs more than 600 people at its 28-storey building in the central business district here, and Singapore's GIC, which has invested in Canada's Oxford Properties and iconic Fairmont hotels.

"Canada is consistently seen as one of the best and safest countries in the world to do business, and our government is working to attract even more investment from Singaporean entities, whether it is PSA, Temasek or Pacific Oil & Gas," she said.

She noted that clean technology has emerged as a new area of business interest in both countries. She mentioned Singapore's concrete supplier Pan-United, which has a collaboration with Canadian firm CarbonCure Technologies.

CarbonCure's technology chemically converts carbon dioxide captured from industrial emitters into a nano-mineral that becomes permanently embedded within concrete, making it both greener and stronger.

Ms Ng's address was followed by several presentations by Canadian officials aimed at encouraging Singapore manufacturers to invest and set up businesses in or move to Canada.

Mr Vishal Vijay, director of Singapore's Agrocorp Processing, also shared his experiences and spoke of how his company's business of food processing has flourished in Canada.