Singapore to deepen business collaboration with Zhejiang: minister

China's Belt and Road Initiative seen as an opportunity for firms here to expand


MORE opportunities are opening up for Singapore companies in Zhejiang, China, in areas of trade, cross-border e-commerce, professional services and innovation, said Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, at a council meeting on Friday.

A growing number of local firms - such as e-commerce company M-DAQ and logistics business Ninja Van - have made headway there, she added. Ms Sim was speaking as co-chair of the Singapore-Zhejiang Economic and Trade Council, together with Zhejiang vice-governor Liang Liming. In her speech in Mandarin on Friday, she revealed that investments and trade between Zhejiang and Singapore have gone up. From January to September 2017, bilateral trade grew 20 per cent year-on-year to reach S$3.6 billion.

She also spoke on specific areas that both Zhejiang and Singapore can further collaborate to create "win-win" situations. The first is in trade and professional services. As a key oil trade and financing hub in the region, Singapore companies across the trade value chain are well-positioned to partner the Zhejiang (Zhoushan) Free Trade Zone that was launched in April, she said.

And as China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) boosts the internationalisation of Zhejiang enterprises, Singapore can partner them to expand in the region. One Chinese firm that has done so is Forchn Group, which established its international headquarters in Singapore to extend its reach in South-east Asia.

Another area that Singapore and Zhejiang can further collaborate is in cross-border e-commerce, said Ms Sim. Zhejiang houses the China (Hangzhou) Cross-Border E-Commerce Pilot Zone, the nation's first comprehensive pilot zone for cross-border e-commerce.

Singapore companies' strengths in the e-commerce value chain and networks in South-east Asia complement Zhejiang's interests to enter the market, she said. Ninja Van was highlighted as one Singapore business which has successfully partnered several Zhejiang companies to pilot its new cross-border logistics services in the region.

Finally, Singapore companies can continue to work with Zhejiang on innovative projects, which has yielded good results so far, she said. Private investment group Venturecraft, which has set up an incubator in the Singapore-Hangzhou Science & Technology Park, has facilitated Singapore startups to innovate and expand beyond Zhejiang to the rest of China.

During the meeting on Friday, two memoranda of understanding (MOUs) were also signed to deepen collaboration on the BRI. The first is the Anacle-Enjoytown project, where Singapore firm Anacle signed an agreement with Enjoytown (Hangzhou) Holdings to develop smart city management systems and solutions. The other is a partnership between Deloitte Singapore and China Zhejiang Center (Singapore) to set up a business cooperation mechanism. The meeting was attended by over 110 government and business representatives from Singapore and Zhejiang. It is the 12th meeting since the council was established in 2003, supported by International Enterprise Singapore as Secretariat.