Firms urged to go beyond China's coastal provinces

SHANGHAI (The Straits Times/ANN) - Many more opportunities await Singapore firms in huge Chinese market, says Trade Minister Chan Chun Sing.

There are still many more opportunities for Singapore companies in China beyond the coastal provinces, such as in the western and central regions, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said yesterday (Nov 6).

He said the Singapore Government is working with the Chinese authorities in many areas to help companies in both countries partner each other. He cited the China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (CSFTA) as a mechanism that could help companies lower both tariff and non-tariff barriers to entering China.

Mr Chan was speaking to the Singapore media after touring the Singapore booths in the Trade in Services section of the China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai.

"The more they (the Singapore companies) come to China, the more they link up with the businesses here, the greater the opportunities," he said.

He noted that China is a big market, and there are still a lot of opportunities for Singapore companies at different tiers of the market and different stages of development.

He pointed out that both countries are also working together to make it easier for Singapore and Chinese companies to collaborate.

One way is to work out a mutual recognition of each other's standards, for example, in the field of professional services, he said.

"It is very useful for both countries to have this mutual recognition of standards, how we can better integrate our systems of Customs clearance... in order to facilitate greater collaboration between Singapore companies and the Chinese companies," he added.

He listed three key things that the Singapore Government "really wants to do".

The first is to get more Singapore companies to explore beyond the established cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. The other is to attract Chinese companies to go to Singapore and use the Republic as a platform to explore the markets in South-east Asia.

And the third is for Singapore and Chinese companies to work together to explore third-party markets.

Earlier yesterday, Mr Chan also spoke at the Singapore-China Trade and Investment Forum, an event on the sidelines of the CIIE, and witnessed the signing of three business deals in logistics, agricultural commodities trading and metal minerals.

The first two memorandums of understanding were signed between PIL Logistics, a Singapore-based logistics provider, and the local authorities in north-western Gansu province, while the third was between Trafigura Group, a commodity trading company, and Baiyin Nonferrous Group, a Gansu state-owned enterprise.

At the forum, speakers from government agencies and the private sector from Singapore and China discussed trade and investment opportunities in both countries.

More than 350 government officials, business leaders and entrepreneurs from both countries were at the event.

In the afternoon, Mr Chan attended the official opening of the China headquarters for Singapore's United Overseas Bank, before ending his three-day visit to Shanghai and returning home.

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