SINGAPORE - Companies in Singapore are well positioned to cater to consumers in China, especially younger consumers in their 20s and 30s, who are now more discerning and prefer better-quality products, Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong said on Saturday (Nov 6).
China's economy has bounced back strongly in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the country has committed to boosting domestic consumption and increasing consumer spending, which will be a key driver of its economic growth in the next few years, Mr Gan noted.
This represents a growth opportunity for Singapore companies, whose products are reputed for their high quality, safety and reliability, he added.
Mr Gan was speaking via videoconferencing service Zoom from Singapore at the opening of the fourth annual Singapore-China Trade and Investment Forum, a high-level bilateral business forum to foster dialogue and cooperation between the business communities in Singapore and China.
The event, organised by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and supported by Enterprise Singapore, is being held physically in Shanghai.
"This pandemic has highlighted the vulnerabilities of global trade. Companies are forced to rethink their business models, and find innovative ways to engage partners and consumers," the minister said
"In the face of disruption, it is important for us to look for new opportunities to continue thriving and prospering."
Mr Gan also cited the rapid digitalisation of the global economy and the emerging green economy as two other key trends that Singapore companies should take advantage of.
China is a global leader in the area of digitalisation, with a digital economy worth US$6 trillion (S$8.1 trillion) or 38.6 per cent of its gross domestic product in 2020, Mr Gan noted.
He added that the pandemic has further accelerated digitalisation around the world, including in China, where consumers are now spending more time on online apps, video live-streaming platforms and e-commerce platforms.
"This opens up more opportunities for companies to access the Chinese market through digital channels," said the minister.
Similarly, he noted that South-east Asia's digital economy is projected to triple in size to US$300 billion by 2025, which represents a growing opportunity for both Singaporean and Chinese companies in areas such as cross-border e-commerce and trade financing.
On environmental sustainability and the green economy, Mr Gan said Singapore and China are like-minded in their intent to address the climate crisis.
He noted that the Chinese government issued its 1+N policy framework last month to promote green development and provide guidance to meet the country's decarbonisation goals.
Meanwhile, Singapore launched its Singapore Green Plan 2030 this year and aims to halve its emissions from the 2030 peak by 2050, and to achieve net zero emissions as soon as viable in the second half of the century.
Said Mr Gan: "I encourage Singapore and Chinese companies to leverage the wealth of opportunities available in the green economy, including areas such as renewable energy, low-carbon technology and green financing."
SBF chairman Lim Ming Yan and Singapore Ambassador to China Lui Tuck Yew were also at the forum.
Mr Lim said China remains a top priority for Singapore businesses despite the pandemic.
He noted that some 45 Singapore businesses sent representatives to physically attend this year's China International Import Expo in Shanghai, which is being held in conjunction with the forum.
Mr Lim also noted that China announced last year its "dual circulation" strategy to boost its domestic consumption and enhance its foreign investments, and Singapore can continue to play an important role as a regional hub in China's new economic strategy.
"For Chinese investors, Singapore can be a springboard into Asean and the rest of Asia, and for investors from the rest of the world, Singapore can be a key hub for their investments into China," he said.
Mr Lui urged companies to pay more attention to trade in services between China and Singapore. "China is our largest trading partner in merchandise trade, but is not yet near to being our top trade partner in services.
"I expect that in the coming years, China - especially its key cities - will find a new balance between the contribution of manufacturing and services to its economy, and this will create new opportunities for Singapore businesses."