S'pore in 'good position' to support China firms on 'Belt and Road'

As a strategic node on the age-old Maritime Silk Road, Singapore continues to be a key hub connecting the movement of goods and people in South-east Asia to the world.

This puts the Republic in a good position to support the growing number of Chinese firms venturing along the "Belt and Road", said Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong.

Mr Wong made these remarks in an interview with China's Xinhuanet news agency in Beijing.

He is in the Chinese capital to attend the two-day Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, which kicks off today.

He said China's Belt and Road initiative - which aims to revive ancient land and sea trade routes that linked the country to the rest of Asia, Africa and Europe - creates many opportunities for closer cooperation between China and Singapore.

As a regional financial centre and one of the largest offshore renminbi centres, Singapore can address the financing needs of Belt and Road projects, particularly in South-east Asia, said Mr Wong. He added that several Chinese banks have already issued Belt and Road bonds in Singapore to finance projects.

There are also many opportunities for businesses from both countries to work together, he said. These projects could involve other countries along the trade route, and in areas such as transport and logistics, utilities and infrastructure developments.

Mr Wong said many Chinese firms are already using Singapore as a launch pad to South-east Asia.

China's investment in Singapore alone accounts for about one-third of its total investments in countries along the Belt and Road, China's Ministry of Commerce said.

Another possible area of cooperation between Singapore and China is providing joint training for officials from Belt and Road countries that are at different stages of development. Mr Wong said Singapore's experience in urban transformation may be of interest to other nations. "Singapore stands ready to partner with China to build the Belt and Road as a major platform for regional collaboration," he added.

Tomorrow, Mr Wong will speak at the Belt and Road Industry Financing International symposium. He will then head to Suzhou to chair the 8th World Cities Summit Mayors Forum - a platform for mayors and city leaders to share best practices on how to address pressing urban challenges.

Mr Wong will meet foreign leaders, counterparts and industry leaders in Beijing and Suzhou. He will be accompanied by officials from the Ministry of National Development and the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 14, 2017, with the headline S'pore in 'good position' to support China firms on 'Belt and Road'. Subscribe