Opportunities for Singapore companies in China’s digitalisation, sustainability space: Gan Kim Yong

Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong speaking at the 5th Singapore-China Trade and Investment Forum on Nov 7, 2022. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - Local companies can look for opportunities in the digitalisation and sustainability segments of the Chinese market, said Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong on Monday.

China is moving quickly in these two areas of the economy and both countries share common goals and interests in them, he added.

He was speaking at the 5th Singapore-China Trade and Investment Forum at the SBF Centre in Tanjong Pagar.

The one-day forum is organised by the Singapore Business Federation and is being held simultaneously at the Crowne Plaza Shanghai Hongqiao hotel in China.

It is also running alongside the China International Import Expo 2022, which started on Nov 5 and will last till Nov 10.

“If we are ready, we will be able to participate in China’s digitalisation transformation. That is one big part of the economy that is going to grow very rapidly. The second area is in sustainability... we are very keen to look at how we can participate in China’s sustainability efforts,” said Mr Gan.

China’s digital economy was valued at US$7.1 trillion (S$10 trillion) in 2021, accounting for close to 40 per cent of its gross domestic product. China has also announced its aim to be carbon neutral by 2060, while Singapore is aiming to reach net-zero greenhouse emissions by 2050.

To boost business relations between Singapore and Chinese companies, six memorandums of understanding (MOUs) on logistics, digital innovation, education and cosmetic products were signed on Monday.

One of the MOUs is between Singapore’s SP Group and the municipal government of Dezhou in Shandong province. SP Group will leverage the technology and renewable energy sources in Dezhou to build photovoltaic power stations in the city, under the dual aim of reducing pollution and developing renewable energy.

Another agreement was between New Land-Sea Corridor Operation, a public service enterprise based in Chongqing, and CrimsonLogic, a Singapore-based technology company. The collaboration will see the Chinese organisation tap CrimsonLogic’s digital supply chain platform to improve the flow of goods across borders.

Ms Chong Ee Rong, vice-chairman of the Singapore Business Federation, said China has been Singapore’s largest trading partner since 2013. In the first quarter of 2022 alone, China’s imports from Singapore were worth US$9.33 billion. As at March this year, Singapore’s cumulative investment in China was US$124 billion.

Singapore also remains attractive to Chinese companies seeking to expand into the Asean region, said Mr Chua Teng Hoe, the Singapore Consul-General in Shanghai.

It is important that both countries work together to overcome challenges amid a pandemic and geopolitical uncertainties, he added.

Mr Gan said the global economic slowdown and disrupted supply chains pose significant challenges for businesses. While they are likely to be transient, Singapore is well positioned to take advantage of growth opportunities notwithstanding these obstacles.

For one thing, he said, Singapore is part of Asia, a growing region that is likely to be one of the major growth drivers for the global economy. Its position will allow the country to access different markets in the region.

Singapore also has a very efficient environment that makes it cost-effective for businesses to operate here.

Said Mr Gan: “What is underlying all these positive factors is a very highly skilled, highly educated workforce. The workforce also continues to learn, acquire new skills and knowledge to be ready for the future. That is something that will position Singapore very well for growth in time to come.”

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