SINGAPORE: New industrial parks could soon be built in Southeast Asia after Sembcorp Development and China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park Development signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Tuesday (Nov 20) to develop such parks in the region.
This was one of the 13 MOUs signed during the 12th Singapore-Jiangsu Cooperation Council meeting in Singapore, aimed at deepening economic partnership and advancing the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Focusing on areas including trade and logistics as well as financial services, the MOUs involve Singapore entities such as SP Chemicals, Sembcorp and Enterprise Singapore.
The agreements signed include a partnership between Enterprise Singapore and Suzhou Industrial Park Administrative Committee (SIPAC) to develop third-party market collaboration along the Belt and Road.
SIPAC also signed four MOUs with the Singapore Exchange and three banks - DBS, OCBC and UOB - to promote collaborations in fintech and facilitate investments into Singapore and Jiangsu.
Meanwhile, SP Chemicals will establish a new petrochemical plant with the Taixing government, promoting international trade in chemicals. This will be the single largest foreign investment of US$800 million in Taixing.
Sembcorp Development, Temasek Polytechnic, Duralite Power and Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics also signed an MOU over a collaborative innovation centre for smart drone surveying technology for environment protection.
“VERY STRONG COMPLEMENTARITIES” BETWEEN SG, CHINA: HENG
Singapore Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, who co-chaired Tuesday's meeting with Jiangsu Governor Wu Zhenglong, said the MOUs showed there was a recognition that there are “very strong complementarities” between Singapore and China.
He added that Singapore could position itself as a global Asia node of technology, innovation and enterprise, with a flow of investors between both countries.
“Singapore can serve as a very good base for Chinese companies that are going out into the region," he said. "In turn, Singapore can also be a very good base for global companies that are seeking to enter China in Asia."
“In the future, there will be more scope for collaboration on technology and innovation, whether it’s in the area of healthcare, environmental protection, and many other areas of manufacturing, which will be increasingly reshaped by the march of technology."
During his speech at the meeting, Mr Heng added that Singapore was committed to partnering Jiangsu in supporting China’s economic priorities – the BRI being one of them.
Mr Heng said the BRI would be “a major area of cooperation in the coming years" and noted that Singapore was an "early supporter" of the initiative.
The BRI was unveiled in late 2013 by China President Xi Jinping to build infrastructure in Asia, Africa and Europe to strengthen trade links.
The initiative has drawn controversy, most recently when US Vice President Mike Pence earlier this week warned smaller countries not to be seduced by the massive infrastructure programme.
In response to US-China tensions over the initiative, Mr Heng said the BRI was a complex project and there would “inevitably be misunderstandings on what it seeks to achieve”.
He added: “We need to promote a deeper understanding of the Belt and Road initiative, as well as other initiatives ... on what it can and cannot do, and what it should or should not do.”
Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon and Jiangsu Vice Governor Guo Yuanqiang also attended the event as the vice co-chairmen of the council.
Last year, Singapore was Jiangsu’s third-largest investor with bilateral trade that grew at 15.7 per cent year-on-year, reaching US$11.3 billion (S$15.1 billion).
Singapore’s cumulative investments in the province were worth more than US$26.3 billion with 3,706 projects, as of end-December 2017.