SINGAPORE - China's rebalancing of domestic and export growth drivers, diversification of its markets and supply chains, and changing demographics are three areas that present opportunities for future cooperation with Singapore, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing on Friday (Nov 6).
He was delivering the opening keynote speech at the Singapore-China Trade and Investment Forum, organised by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) as part of this year's China International Import Expo.
Pointing to Chinese President Xi Jinping's "Dual Circulation Strategy", Mr Chan said this was a natural evolution of Chinese economic development, with its previous export-led model ("external circulation") rebalanced with and complemented by a domestic-consumption one ("internal circulation").
"This presents many opportunities for the world, given the size of the Chinese market. To seize the new opportunities, we must deeply understand the complexities and diversity of the Chinese market," he said.
"Different cities, provinces, age groups and education profiles have their unique needs, and we should never mistake the Chinese market as monolithic or homogenous."
He also noted that Chinese companies are increasingly looking to secure supply lines across the world.
"They also want to build a more resilient production and supply chain system across the world to serve different markets and guard against disruptions by natural disasters and man-made policies. This is no different from any other global companies," said Mr Chan. "Therein lies opportunities for Singapore companies to partner Chinese companies in this quest."
Earlier, Singapore Ambassador to China Lui Tuck Yew also touched on Singapore's potential role in China's diversification of supply chains and markets.
"As a regional and international trading financial and logistics hub, Singapore can be a key partner," he said in his welcome address. "We can provide a base for Chinese companies to venture into the Southeast Asian region, which has been identified as a priority region in China's "external circulation".
Mr Chan also observed that China's ageing and urban population is growing rapidly, as is its middle-income class. The western regions are also developing fast.
"The demand for quality products beyond meeting basic needs have also grown in tandem," Mr Chan added. "All these present many new opportunities for our companies to see how we can partner Chinese companies in meeting the emerging needs of the new Chinese demographics."
He urged the SBF, as an apex business chamber, to work together with government agencies like the Economic Development Board and Enterprise Singapore to organise Singapore's global network of offices and contacts to help new Singapore businesses better understand overseas markets.
"To this end, SBF, government agencies and the overseas business chambers will need to work closely together to achieve this goal of Singapore companies helping one another and hunting together as a pack," said Mr Chan.
Noting that for the past seven years, Singapore has been China's largest foreign investor and China, in turn, Singapore's largest trading partner, Mr Lui said that businesses from Singapore and China enjoy long-standing relationships defined by mutual trust.
"It's no wonder that Singapore and China's leaders never fail to mention the excellent state of business and economic relations in conversations with each other," said the former transport minister. "Both sides have constantly updated our value propositions to each other, by aligning with respective priorities and interests to the benefit of both sides."
Mr Lui and Mr Chan said Singapore-China ties were growing from "strength to strength" over 30 years of official bilateral and diplomatic relations and across business, economic, social, legal and cultural interactions.
"As China moves onto the next stage of its development, Singapore must closely and deeply understand China. This must be a never-ending task," said Mr Chan. "In Singapore's continuing partnership with China, we (will) continue to deepen and broaden our economic cooperation with China for the next 30 years and beyond."