Mr Leon Perera: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry (a) what is the Ministry's assessment of the risk posed to the competitiveness of key industries in Singapore such as financial services and ICT by China's plan for a Greater Bay Area; and (b) what plans are being developed to draw economic benefits and mitigate competitive risk from the Greater Bay Area project.
Written Answer by Minister for Trade and Industry Mr Chan Chun Sing
1. Singapore welcomes the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) , which is part of China’s strategy to promote the integrated development of its various regions . The GBA aims to become a vibrant world-class city cluster and global innovation hub that will lead China’s further reforms and opening up. This will create new opportunities that are beneficial to regional economies. Given our strong ties with GBA cities and businesses, Singapore is well-placed to tap on potential business opportunities in the GBA.
2. Singapore agencies and counterparts at the Guangdong Provincial People’s Government know one another well. Singapore holds regular ministerial meetings with Guangdong through the Singapore-Guangdong Collaboration Council (SGCC). In November 2018, the China-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City (CSGKC) was also elevated as a State-Level Bilateral Cooperation project to promote cooperation in areas such as technology innovation, intellectual property rights, and advanced manufacturing. The GBA outline development plan highlights the CSGKC as a key technology innovation platform. As part of our engagement with the GBA, Singapore will also twin with Shenzhen under the ASEAN Smart Cities Network.
3. Hong Kong is another GBA city which Singapore is well-connected to. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) meet regularly to discuss financial regulatory issues. MAS and HKMA have signed agreements to cooperate including a FinTech Cooperation Agreement and a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate digital trade and trade financing between our two markets.
4. There is strong mutual desire between Singapore and GBA authorities to nurture and grow a vibrant digital economy. The various platforms that have been established allow for active exchange of ideas and collaboration between government, companies, universities and research institutes. This will lead to opportunities for Singapore’s ICT, financial and other companies in the GBA in the areas of technology innovation, infrastructure development, data management, and digitalisation.
5. We will also continue to build on our competitiveness as a financial hub. Singapore has deep strengths across a range of financial activities, including asset management, foreign exchange and derivatives, insurance and reinsurance. We are a major US dollar funding market and our capital markets serve not just Southeast Asia, but the pan-Asian region. Singapore is also a leading centre for FinTech.
6. At the same time, the Singapore Government continues to invest heavily to help our businesses and people remain competitive and translate opportunities into tangible gains. We do so by continually strengthening our value propositions by acquiring deep skills, improving our productivity, and encouraging innovation. For example, the Digital Economy Framework for Action introduced last year covers programmes such as the SMEs Go Digital Programme, which supports SMEs in their digitalisation efforts to improve their productivity. The TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) programme, on the other hand, equips ICT professionals to take on deeper tech roles, and for non-ICT workers to switch to a tech career. These moves will ensure that Singapore has a good chance of sustaining our competitiveness and remaining relevant in the global economy. The Government is also committed to work in tandem with leading global and local ICT and tech companies, to encourage industry investments that complement government efforts in building a thriving ecosystem of digital opportunities for all.