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Speech by SMS Koh Poh Koon at the China-ASEAN Business Leaders Forum at the 16th China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit

Speech by SMS Koh Poh Koon at the China-ASEAN Business Leaders Forum at the 16th China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit

His Excellency Lu Xinshe (鹿心社), Party Secretary of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region 

His Excellency Bronislaw Komorowski, Former President of the Republic of Poland

His Excellency Pan Sorasak, Minister of Commerce of Cambodia

Gao Yan (高燕), Chairperson of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade 

Chen Dehai (陈德海), Secretary-General of the ASEAN-China Centre 


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon. It gives me great pleasure to join you today at the China-ASEAN Business Leaders Forum. The theme of today’s Forum, “Jointly building the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor to Share Development Opportunities” (共建陆海通道、共享发展机遇), is a timely reminder of the importance of mutually beneficial international cooperation.  

Importance of ASEAN-China Free Trade Area in Economic Integration

Asia has become more connected with intra-regional trade now accounting for almost 60% of Asia’s total trade. ASEAN-China cooperation has contributed much to this trend. ASEAN is currently China’s third largest trading partner, and China has been ASEAN’s largest trading partner for the past decade. Both sides are also working together on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which when concluded will be the world’s largest Free Trade Area.

Role of the CCI-ILSTC in Facilitating Trade Between ASEAN and Western China 

Against this backdrop, Singapore is working with China to develop the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor as part of our third government-to-government project, the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Connectivity Initiative (CCI). Our vision for the CCI-ILSTC is for it to become the most efficient trade route between Western China and Southeast Asia. Apart from improving traditional air, land, sea and river links, the CCI-ILSTC also aims to strengthen modern dimensions of connectivity such as data, talent, technology and financial flows. 

Next Steps for the CCI-ILSTC

To stimulate discussions, I would like to highlight three areas that we are working on to realise the full potential of the CCI-ILSTC:

First, we are intensifying efforts to promote the use of the CCI-ILSTC. A trade corridor works best as an open and inclusive platform. The more partners we have, the greater our economies of scale, and the lower our costs, to the benefit of everyone. The plan issued by China’s National Development and Reform Commission last month to promote greater coordination among all twelve Western China provinces, as well as international partners, to further develop and use the CCI-ILSTC is a positive move. We look forward to working with more ASEAN and Chinese companies on using the CCI-ILSTC to access each other’s market.
Second, we want to facilitate trade by reducing non-tariff barriers and adopting best practices in standards and regulations. This can increase the range of cargo, including perishables such as meat and seafood products, that can benefit from the faster route via the CCI-ILSTC. We are also adopting technology to reduce cost for traders. At the national level, Singapore and China are piloting a new link between Singapore’s Networked Trade Platform and China’s National Single Window to exchange trade documents electronically. At the provincial level, Singapore’s Global eTrade Services has been working with Guangxi’s China-ASEAN Information Harbour to connect Guangxi’s Single Window system internationally. 

Third, we continue to forge strong networks and partnerships not only between governments, but also among our businesses. The annual CAEXPO helps to bring enterprises and organisations across the region together. I am glad that the ASEAN Freight Forwarding Associations, or AFFA, is opening a representative office here in Nanning. Such platforms will allow businesses across the regions to exchange new ideas and explore new partnerships to make better use of the CCI-ILSTC. I also encourage our friends from the private sector to provide feedback and let us know how we can partner you to ensure that the CCI-ILSTC serves your needs.  


We are only starting our efforts in these areas. There is much more that can be achieved through new partnership and ideas. I look forward to the discussions and wish everyone a fruitful day ahead. Thank you very much. 

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