SINGAPORE: Local companies will now be able to connect better with other businesses in the region to work on Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects in Singapore, China and other countries through a BRI Connect Platform launched on Tuesday (Aug 15).
The initiative was jointly launched by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and Chinese Enterprises Association at the Singapore Regional Business Forum 2017.
According to SBF, the platform will be rolled out fully in the coming months and will allow local companies to offer expertise, in areas such as accounting, financing and consultancy, to other firms who want to participate in Belt and Road projects.
The number of contracted BRI projects has been increasing steadily since 2016, with combined business revenue at US$75.97 billion, it added in a media release.
Mr Teo Siong Seng, SBF chairman, said: “Companies can use Singapore as a springboard by leveraging its strong financing capabilities, robust intellectual property and legal infrastructures, business connections, as well as its extensive network of bilateral and regional trade and investment agreements.”
“The project may not come through Singapore but ... Singapore companies (can) act as connectors - this could benefit companies and create good jobs for Singaporeans.”
He also said that Singapore can be an “ideal base” for companies looking to tap potential BRI projects in the region, citing the city state’s strategic location at the crossroads of East-West trade.
Surbana Jurong company chairman Liew Mun Leong noted that partnerships arising from the BRI projects bode well for the creation of jobs in Singapore.
"It's definitely our rice bowl being broadened," he said. "When it comes to downstream, our professional services can take advantage of it, whether it is in ... accounting, legal, banking - it would have a big impact on job creation for us."
The infrastructure consultancy firm recently tied up with Chinese firm China Highway Engineering Consulting Corporation to pursue highway and municipal projects in the Belt and Road countries.
LOCAL FIRMS ARE 'NATURAL PARTNERS'
Speaking at the business forum, Second Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong made a call for both Singapore and Chinese firms to cooperate on developments in the Belt and Road countries.
He said: “Singapore companies are natural partners for Chinese firms expanding into the region, especially in Southeast Asia. We have worked together on the Suzhou Industrial Park for more than 20 years. We have Tianjin Eco-city, we have close to 10 years experience.
“Our companies may not be able to build a railway or large scale infrastructure but we can do engineering, we can do design, we can do master planning, we can do project management and financing, we can do logistics and servicing and a whole range of other services.”
He also said major infrastructure projects carried out over the next 10 years will put Singapore's economy on a "much stronger footing".
He cited Changi Airport's Terminal 5, the Tuas mega port, the Kuala Lumpur High-Speed Rail and the Singapore-Johor Bahru Rapid Transit System as examples of these major projects that will help connect Singapore to the region.
He said that the government is also developing new business and creative districts in Jurong, Woodlands and Punggol.
“Singapore may be a little red dot, very small. Some of you may have the impression that we are already very built up. But in fact, we are not done building Singapore yet. We have not reached our physical limits.”
He also said the Singapore government welcomes more Chinese companies to establish their presence here.
He noted that over 6,500 Chinese companies have already done so and tapped the country’s “strong regional linkages” to expand into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' market.
TWO OTHER AGREEMENTS SIGNED
Meanwhile, two other MOUs were inked during the forum.
One was signed between the SBF and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry to enhance regional partnerships between the Philippines and Singapore.
Similarly, Pacific International Lines, PSA International and IBM also agreed to develop solutions that use blockchain to achieve better security, efficiency and transparency in the supply chain network.