Singapore, Jiangsu ink 13 pacts to boost business links

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat (at right) said Singapore is committed to partner Jiangsu in supporting China's economic priorities. With him is Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon.
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat (at right) said Singapore is committed to partner Jiangsu in supporting China's economic priorities. With him is Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon.PHOTO: ENTERPRISE SINGAPORE

Partnership aims to create more opportunities for their firms to venture into third-party markets

Singapore and China's Jiangsu province will deepen their economic partnership and advance the Belt and Road Initiative as they create more opportunities for their companies to venture into third-party markets, trade and logistics and financial services.

This was discussed at the 12th Singapore-Jiangsu Cooperation Council (SJCC) meeting yesterday where 13 agreements were inked to drive cooperation and create working opportunities between businesses on the two sides.

The meeting at Shangri-La Hotel was co-chaired by Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat and Jiangsu Governor Wu Zhenglong.

Over 160 Singapore and Jiangsu government and business representatives attended the meeting.

Last year, Singapore's total trade with Jiangsu was worth 78.4 billion yuan (S$15.5 billion), a 15.7 per cent year-on-year increase. Singapore's investment in the province rose about 20 per cent year on year to 8.3 billion yuan in 2017.

For the first half of 2018, Singapore's total cumulative investment in Jiangsu stood at 189.4 billion yuan. Jiangsu now accounts for approximately 30 per cent of Singapore's investment in China.

In his opening speech, Mr Heng said: "Singapore is committed to partner Jiangsu in supporting China's economic priorities. The Belt and Road Initiative is a strategic initiative by China to strengthen its linkages and integration with the region and the world. It will be a major area of cooperation in the coming years. Singapore is an early supporter in this initiative."

To deepen cooperation, Mr Heng said both countries can enhance trade and port connectivity to promote the flow of goods, services and capital. "This will help to support a rules-based multi-lateral trading system, deepen trade and investment relations, and maintain peace and stability," he said.

Suzhou Industrial Park Administrative Committee (Sipac) signed four agreements with the Singapore Exchange (SGX), DBS, OCBC and UOB to promote collaborations in fintech and facilitate investments into Singapore and Jiangsu.

In a press release, UOB said this would help companies expand regionally through cross-border trade and investment.

Mr Lim Chu Chong, head of institutional banking at DBS Bank (China), said that by harnessing their experience in capital markets and transaction banking, they can help corporates achieve their financing needs and embark on their next phase of growth.

Ms Mylene Tay, head of China Business Office at OCBC Bank, added: "The signing of this memorandum of understanding (MOU) builds on the latest stage of the industrial park's development - Suzhou Industrial Park 2.0 - which has seen a shifting focus to high-tech innovation."

Phillip Capital Management also signed an MOU with the Bank of Suzhou to establish an onshore fund management joint venture in Suzhou Industrial Park.

Singapore can be a springboard for companies to venture into third-party markets, especially in South-east Asia, Mr Heng said. "Enterprises can leverage Singapore's position as a financial hub and strengths of our professional services cluster and partner Singapore companies to enter the growing Asean market and broader region."

To this end, Enterprise Singapore inked an agreement with Sipac to facilitate more partnerships between Singapore and Suzhou enterprises to develop third-party market collaboration along the Belt and Road.

Enterprise Singapore will also connect Jiangsu enterprises to relevant Singapore partners in legal, financial and other professional services.

In addition, Sembcorp will partner China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park Development to develop industrial parks in South-east Asia.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2018, with the headline 'Singapore, Jiangsu ink 13 pacts to boost business links'. Print Edition | Subscribe