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Speech by Minister Chan Chun Sing at the Singapore-China Trade & Investment Forum

Speech by Minister Chan Chun Sing at the Singapore-China Trade & Investment Forum


Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A very good morning to all of you and welcome to Shanghai.

1. I think many of you participated in the first China International Import Expo and heard the speech by President Xi Jinping yesterday. It is a significant speech. President Xi has once again, publicly made China’s commitment to continue this opening up, and this is part of China’s ongoing journey in the last 40 years.

2. If you look at how the Chinese economy has developed over the past 40 years, the keywords are about global integration and connectivity. How the Chinese economy has over the last 40 years connected to the rest of the world and become a much better integrated unit as part of the global family.

3. For Singapore, we believe that such integration and connectivity is good for China and the rest of the world. The more China integrates with the rest of the world, the greater the chances of peace and prosperity for all of us.

4. It is for this reason that Singapore has continuously supported China’s integration with the rest of the world. Starting with the early years where we worked with China to develop their domestic economy, their entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO), the development of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The fact that we have three G-to-G projects, seven provincial business councils now are all testimony to our efforts to work with China for a greater integration between China’s economy and the world’s economy.

5. At the current moment as we speak, there are also common challenges and common interests between China and Singapore that we need to work together on. The global economic trading system is under stress from protectionism and unilateralism. Protectionism and unilateralism will continue to grow unless the respective countries can manage their domestic situations. Because the benefits of globalisation will also require domestic adjustments. If domestic adjustments are not well taken care off, it will lead to a global backlash. So these are the challenges we are facing together, between China, Singapore and the rest of the world. 

6. There is every reason for China and Singapore to work together to uphold and evolve the WTO and the global rule-based, open, fair trading system. We will be the first one to say that as the world economy continues to evolve, so must the rules for the global trading system. It is not perfect, but being imperfect does not mean we must get rid of the system. The perfect cannot be the enemy of good.

7. We must continue to uphold this system, continue to evolve this. For example, how do we evolve this system, taking into account the changed realities of the global trading system? How do we evolve this system, taking into account the technological disruption caused by digital economy, e-commerce, data flows and so on? There are many areas we need to work together. China and Singapore also share a common interest to enhance our bilateral and pluri-lateral ties. This is the reason why Singapore and China have worked closely together to complete the negotiation of China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement upgrade yesterday. We look forward to signing this agreement as soon as possible, so that we can bring into force this agreement for the benefit of our people and businesses.

8. It is also for the same reason that Singapore is working hard with China to continue to push for the early conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), an agreement that is perhaps even bigger than the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in terms of scope, to cover 16 countries. We are now at the critical stage of our discussion over the next two weeks and we will do our best working together between Singapore and China and the 14 other countries to try to achieve a substantial conclusion of the RCEP.

9. Singapore will continue to diversify our portfolio of free trade agreements with many other countries to keep our options open. For this year, we have just signed the EU- Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA), we have also upgraded the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA). These are the many examples of the work that is ongoing to make sure that Singapore continue to have a free, open, rule-based environment with as many like-minded countries as possible. Even as we speak, we are working on the Pacific Alliance and MERCOSUR agreements in order to expand our string of upgraded FTAs to meet the evolving needs of our businesses.

10.So there is much we need to do, bilaterally, and on a multilateral platform – uphold the global trading system, evolve the global trading system, and continue to strengthen the network of bilateral and pluri-lateral ties between our economies. But between China and Singapore specifically, there are three areas that we need to strengthen.

11.China has reached a new stage of development. In the last 40 years, the focus on China was on expecting foreign direct investment into China. But since the last 2  to 3 years, China’s overseas investment has overtaken the inbound foreign direct investment. And this is a significant milestone. So there are three areas that Singapore businesses must seize the opportunities in, in this new phase of China’s development.

12.First, even as we talk about China going out, there are still tremendous opportunities in China. Even if some of us might think that the opportunities in the coastal cities are quite saturated, there are still many opportunities in many other parts of China. And this is where we hope to strengthen the network of SingCham and Enterprise Singapore in different parts of China to create more opportunities for our businesses.

13.Yesterday when I met the SingCham Shanghai chapter, I encouraged them to not just perform the role of helping Singapore businesses integrate into China and assimilate into the local environment, but also help China businesses reach back into Singapore and beyond. These are the new roles that I encouraged SingCham to work on.

14.However, in order for us to do this, we need to go beyond the established cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. There are many other second-tier and third-tier cities that are still hungry for growth and have much potential for growth. These are the areas where Singapore businesses lack tremendous support in. So the networking opportunities available today should not just be constrained to the business opportunities in Shanghai. In fact, I am very confident that your networking here today, will bring opportunities in China beyond Shanghai.

15.The second thing is that as China grows and continues to go out, we need to ask what we can do to partner China. One-third of China’s Belt & Road outward investment goes through Singapore. Why does it go through Singapore? Because of a few very simple reasons: We combine the financial powers and the resources of China businesses with the niche capabilities of Singapore. The niche capabilities of Singapore include our ability to syndicate loans, syndicate complex people structure projects for the long term, and a legal system that is trusted by all parties. These are our strengths. As Chinese companies increasingly venture beyond the shores of China, it is in our interest to work closely and partner them on their outbound journey to Singapore and beyond.

16.We are also working on the third prong of our strategy, beyond just bilateral investment between Singapore and China. Between Singapore and China, some of our companies are working together to look at opportunities in third-party countries. Besides just investments between Singapore and China, we will create and look for opportunities in third-party countries so that we can continue to grow the economic opportunities for our businesses.

17.There are tremendous opportunities in these three areas, to continue to partner China to seek opportunities beyond the established cities, to work with our Chinese partners to strengthen their presence in Singapore and as they venture outwards. And to work with our Chinese partners in third-party countries, to create global opportunities in the global backdrop for us to create better lives for our people.

18. So on that note I wish everyone the very best in your networking here. Because the significance of what you do here goes beyond just getting one more business project between Singapore and China. Each and every one of this project is like alittle brick in building a pillar. So thank you very much and I wish you all the very best.

19. 大家早上好,中国现今的发展已经到了一个新的阶段。在过去的四十年里,很多人看中国时,是在想怎么样走入中国,怎么样把更多的外资吸引到中国。这一段旅程走了四十年。在这近两年来,其实中国已经进入了一个新的发展阶段。

20. 在这几年来我们看到中国对外的投资已超过了中国所吸引对内的外来投资。这将为中国与新加坡的企业带来更多商机。 在这个过程中, 新加坡的企业能扮演什么角色呢?

21. 中国市场还是非常的大。除了沿海一带比较大和发展比较快的城市,中国内陆还有许许多多的城市正在发展。整个中国发展的空间还是有很大的潜能。我们非常鼓励新加坡的公司继续地来深入地了解中国,深入了解中国不同地区,不同省份的需求,跟他们一起的配合来发展内地的经济。就像我们在重庆的项目,在西部的发展中,怎么样与重庆作为一个基地来催化整个西部的发展。

22. 我希望在座的新加坡朋友和中国朋友在今天的研讨会上,有更多更好的机会来彼此认识。彼此认识不只是为了下一个在上海的商机,或者在北京的商机,更希望这种商机也能延续到其他的地区。

23. 第二,在中国商人走出国的时候,新加坡可以作为一个良好的伙伴。中国公司有非常大的资金也有非常多的资源。新加坡在配合中国走出去的时候也有我们的强项。比如在金融与法律方面。尤其是对于一些比较大或需要比较长远的时间的投资项目,新加坡的强项在于能让这些投资有一个稳定的大环境,有法律的保证。

24. 所以在中国走出去的时候,我们还是有许多的商机能跟中国的朋友一起配合到新加坡与不同的领域。比如说,一带一路三分之一的对外投资都是通过新加坡。为什么这么多的投资通过新加坡?这是因为新加坡的法律制度与金融制度。通过我们的优势来配合中国公司的优势达到相辅相成的合作。

25. 第三,除了双边的往来,中国跟新加坡已经开始探讨在第三国家的发展项目。这是一个新的机遇,将为两国的经济带来一个更新更大更广的一个大环境。因为除了新加坡和中国的双边投资,如果我们可以探讨在第三国家的投资的话,这潜能将是非常的大。

26. 所以在接下来的日子里,我们今天所能认识到的朋友,我们的潜能不只局限于在中国或者在新加坡,更重要的是我们要放眼天下,让我们的企业不只在中国和新加坡成功,也要让我们的企业能够在世界各地成功。

27. 接下来中国跟新加坡还有许多合作项目。在全球保护主义的大环境下,中国和新加坡将会一起携手维护世界的自由经济体。更重要的是,我们也要进化我们的世界经济体。现在整个世界单边主义,保护主义正在加剧,科技的演变也越来越快,带来很大的冲击。传统的运营模式很快会被淘汰。不过这整个过程中,中国跟新加坡将会在多边合作的平台上,一起来维护自由,有规则性,及公开的贸易系统。更重要的是,我们也要进化我们的世界贸易规则,比如在这电子商务的时代,怎么样地让这些电子商户,这些大数据,提升工作流程。这是我们要共同努力的地方。

28. 在另外一方面,在多方的合作下,我们也会继续地提升我们双边的关系与合作。昨天我们宣布了完成中新自由贸易协定升级谈判。除了中新自由贸易协定升级版,我们希望在共同努力下 Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)也能在今年取得实质成果。

29. 除了这方面,新加坡也会继续扩大我们在多边方面的一些自由贸易协定,比如Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership(CPTPP)。今年我们也刚签署了 EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA),跟印度也签署了自由贸易协定升级。新加坡会继续和中国合作,也与多边的大环境继续合作来维护我们的自由共同贸易。

30. 就像习近平主席昨天所说的,世界是那么大。 整个世界供应与生产链接会越来越紧密衔接。衔接得越深,我们的获益就会越多。这个趋势是会持续的。所以我们大家有共同的责任,共同的利益,来维护这种次序。让世界每一个国家一起携手把我们的经济体更加紧密的结合起来,达到更高的经济效率。

31. 再此,我恭祝大家会有一个美好丰收的研讨会。谢谢大家。

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