Ms Sun Xueling: To ask the Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office (a) what is the progress of the third Government-to-Government project between Singapore and China, i.e. the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative Project; and (b) whether the industries beyond the logistics sector are actively seeking opportunities for collaboration between both countries.
Oral answer (To be attributed to Minister(Prime Minister's Office) Chan Chun Sing)
- Singapore and China enjoy strong and substantive ties, and our multi-faceted cooperation have continued to evolve with the times, deepening and broadening over the years. The China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstrative Initiative on Strategic Connectivity (CCI) is a long term Government-to-Government (G-to-G) effort that serves as a key priority demonstration project associated with China’s Belt & Road Initiative. Launched in November 2015, it has made good progress in catalysing the economic development of Western China and Southeast Asia by enhancing connectivity in the areas of financial services, aviation, transport & logistics, and information and communications technology (ICT).
- Under the CCI Financial Services Pillar, cross-border financing deals totalling RMB 25.3 billion (around SGD 5.2 billion) have been completed to date, providing Chongqing corporates with more financing options and raising their international profile. Aviation connectivity has also grown significantly, from five flights to 14 flights per week between Singapore and Chongqing.
- The CCI-Southern Transport Corridor (CCI-STC) project was established under the CCI in 2017. The corridor aims to link Chongqing to Qinzhou (Beibu Gulf, Guangxi) in the south by rail and from Qinzhou to Singapore and beyond by sea, thereby enhancing multi-modal connectivity between Western China, Southeast Asia and to the rest of the world. The CCI-STC has been referred to by China’s President Xi Jinping as the international land and sea corridor that connects the overland Silk Road Economic Belt with the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
- For example, the CCI-STC will significantly reduce the amount of time needed to transport goods between Chongqing and Singapore to about a week. This is a third of today’s alternative routes and will result in savings in logistics cost. Since December 2017, three block train services have been commissioned between Chongqing and Guangxi per week. As volumes grow, this is expected to become a daily service. Singapore’s port operator PSA and home-grown shipping line PIL are also working to create more seamless rail-sea connectivity that will also help Singapore’s transhipment flows and services, for trade between Western China and Southeast Asia.
- Mr. Speaker Sir, as opposed to the earlier G-to-G projects which had geographical boundaries, the CCI’s emphasis is on building networks. The CCI-STC is an open platform and I am glad that Chongqing’s neighbours Guangxi, Guizhou and Gansu have come on board to jointly develop this trade corridor. We will work with our Chinese counterparts, especially the PRC Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) and the Chongqing leadership, to engage more provinces in Western China to expand this network.
- Improved connectivity between regions enables companies from both sides to export and import goods more efficiently to and from Southeast Asia and other parts of the world. As cross-border trade activities increase, demand for related services like finance, legal and other professional services will also increase. These in turn, create more opportunities for our businesses and our people. For instance, Moneymax Financial Services and AP Oil International have launched a suite of financial leasing services. WiseNet Asia has also entered Chongqing to provide HR recruitment services. I am glad to note that a Singapore agri-tech start-up SmartAHC has also developed solutions for deployment in Chongqing.
- Through the CCI, we hope to improve the overall business environment in Western China. Companies from both sides can look forward to expand their presence into Western China and Southeast Asia. International Enterprise Singapore, together with trade associations and chambers such as the Singapore Business Federation and the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCCI), have actively engaged our companies, from MNCs to SMEs, to explore opportunities in Western China. SCCCI has recently set up a representative office in Chongqing to serve Singapore businesses in Chongqing. We have seen keen interest in sectors like healthcare, tourism, eldercare, and food and beverages. I hope that more companies will use the CCI platform to venture into Western China.