SINGAPORE: Singapore firms are eyeing growth opportunities in Chongqing, one of the fastest-growing Chinese cities, which has seen almost 11 per cent growth in the first half of 2016.
Overall, Singapore’s investment in Chongqing amounted to more than S$7.7 billion in 2015, double the amount five years ago. Additionally, Singapore firms have said that their investments in the western Chinese city can also help to open doors for other Singapore businesses to venture into the region.
Chao Tian Men - also known as the crown jewel of Chongqing - is the site where CapitaLand’s Raffles City Chongqing is being developed. CapitaLand said that when completed, the S$4.9 billion integrated development will support the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative (CCI) as a hub for firms to operate from.
Mr Lim Ming Yan, group CEO of CapitaLand, said: “This provides a platform for many Singapore companies especially under the CCI to consider using this as a platform coming into Chongqing, understanding what is happening here, and then using this as a platform to move to the other part of the city.
“We have been working with the Yuzhong district government to set up a China-Singapore collaboration centre to allow some of these activities to take place. The Yuzhong government is very keen to provide that one-stop service to Singapore companies coming into Chongqing.”
CapitaLand’s Chao Tian Men project is the single largest investment by a Singapore firm in China. The property developer is one of the companies on a business delegation to Chongqing to explore further growth prospects that the city has to offer.
Said Mr Teo Siong Seng, chairman of the Singapore Business Federation: “Chongqing, being in the inland, has not enjoyed the boom that the coastal provinces have enjoyed. So when the economy slows down in that sense, Chongqing doesn’t suffer so much compared to some of the coastal provinces.
“The government here is very progressive … they’ve actually put in a lot of effort, and I think even if they’re lagging behind in development, when it comes to a slowdown, in fact, they have the advantage. Plus I think the government’s emphasis is to be less dependent on exports, but more dependent on internal consumption.
“And Chongqing - being one of the more vibrant and progressive cities in the western region - is riding on that opportunity, plus the One Belt, One Road initiative started by Chinese government.”
Transport and logistics was one of the key areas discussed at the latest Joint Implementation Committee Meeting. Singapore firm YCH Group said the main bottlenecks are in the city supply chain, and it is looking to provide its logistics solutions in Chongqing to improve connectivity both within the city and beyond.
Mr Robert Yap, executive chairman of YCH Group, noted: “Concurrently, we’re also building an ASEAN platform. So that’s hopefully going to be, when completed, a real China-ASEAN connectivity. (This) will hopefully create a lot of efficiency in terms of lowering logistics costs, while at the same time, easing the ability of products to move into both China and ASEAN, and improving intra-ASEAN China trade.”