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Speech by SMS Koh Poh Koon at the 2nd Belt and Road Forum Infrastructure Connectivity Thematic Forum

Speech by SMS Koh Poh Koon at the 2nd Belt and Road Forum Infrastructure Connectivity Thematic Forum


1. 非常感谢中国交通运输部和国家发展和改革委员会邀请我出席这个论坛。设施联通是“一带一路” 倡议的关键,很高兴今天能就如何加强这方面的合作与大家进行交流。 

Importance of Infrastructure Connectivity to achieving economic growth

2. Intra-regional trade now accounts for more than half of Asia’s total trade. This has made Asia more resilient to global economic uncertainties. To ride on this trend, we must continue to improve infrastructure connectivity to make it easier for all of us to trade with one another, and for our companies to plug into regional and global supply chains. To get the most out of our investments, we need countries to collaborate; to link roads, railways and sea routes over the vast distances and diverse geography within Asia, and to other regions. 

Role of China-Singapore (Chongqing) Connectivity Initiative - New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor (CCI-ILSTC) in regional integration

3. Against this backdrop, Singapore is working with China to develop the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor under the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Connectivity Initiative (CCI-ILSTC). The CCI-ILSTC is a multimodal and multifaceted trade corridor that links Chongqing to Guangxi by rail, and from Guangxi to Singapore by sea. The CCI-ILSTC connects the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, via the Western region of China, and creates new trade flows by providing a new conduit for inter-regional commerce among China, Southeast Asia and beyond. Besides improving traditional land, sea and air links, it also covers modern dimensions of connectivity such as data, technology and finance. 

Critical success factors for multimodal Infrastructure Connectivity projects

4. Drawing on the experience from working on the CCI-ILSTC, I would like to suggest three critical success factors that can help realise the potential of infrastructure connectivity:

5. First, we have to address critical choke points. By ensuring efficient intermodal transfers and closing last-mile connectivity, we will enable shippers to choose the most cost-effective logistical solutions in a seamless network. For instance, when working on rail-sea transfers at Qinzhou Port in Guangxi, we realised that cargo had to be trucked from the railway station to the sea port, causing delays. Hence, we are glad that the Guangxi government is addressing this bottleneck at the last mile by extending the rail line to the port. 

6. Second, hardware has to be complemented with software. Customs authorities must work together to optimise processes, remove duplicative checks and allow seamless cross-border movement of cargo. These business friendly initiatives can be further enhanced by technology. For instance, Singapore and China are linking our respective National Single Windows to allow the electronic exchange of trade documents to cut down on paperwork.   

7. Third, we need to take an open and inclusive approach in the development of infrastructure connectivity. Besides working with the Central Government, Singapore has also teamed up with eight western Chinese provinces to jointly develop the CCI-ILSTC. With more partners, we will have a more connected network.  This will attract more users, who will bring greater economies of scale and lower costs. This is a positively reinforcing cycle and we welcome more partners, be it companies, provinces or countries, to make the CCI-ILSTC a bigger success. 


8. While the CCI-ILSTC is just one part of the BRI, I hope that our experience will be useful to other BRI projects. I look forward to working with more partners to realise the vision of fostering safe, seamless, intelligent and efficient infrastructure connectivity. Thank you and I wish you a successful forum.
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