Vice Premier Hu Chunhua,
Sichuan Party Secretary Peng Qinghua,
Sichuan Governor Huang Qiang,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. I am delighted to join you today at the 18th Western China International Fair, or WCIF. I would first like to commend the Sichuan government for organising the WCIF this year despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
2. Singapore is privileged to be the Country of Honour of the 18th WCIF. Since the launch of the Western Development Strategy in 2000, Western China has become an important engine of China’s growth with its vast resources, large population, and impressive infrastructural development. More recently, the establishment of the Chengdu-Chongqing Economic Circle, or CCEC, further demonstrates the potential of Western China in driving the next era of China’s economic development.
Singapore Companies Have Long Contributed to the Development of Western China
3. Singapore investors have long recognised this potential. In 2003, CapitaLand was one of the first foreign real estate companies to enter Sichuan. Today, it manages over 20 projects in Chengdu and Mianyang across a diversified real estate portfolio.
4. Another example is ST Engineering, which entered Western China in 2011 through the implementation of the Intelligent Transportation System in Chengdu. ST Engineering continues to participate in other smart transportation projects that enhance efficiency and smart city management through automation and big data analytics.
5. We also see a growing number of Singapore small and medium enterprises looking for new opportunities in Sichuan. Charles and Keith set up their first store in Chengdu in 2012, and now has 14 stores across Sichuan. Last year, Putien and Founder Bak Kut Teh chose Chengdu as the location of their first outlets in Western China. We hope to see such endeavours continue.
Singapore can Continue to Contribute to the Development of Western China Through the CCI, CCI-ILSTC and RCEP
6. As we emerge from the pandemic, it is important for Singapore and China to continue to foster stronger economic ties, and cooperate in areas that would contribute towards economic recovery. Both sides can leverage Western China’s strategic position at the crossroads of Europe, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia to further our cooperation.
7. In particular, the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative – New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, or CCI-ILSTC, and the CCEC share the common goal of bolstering the growth of Western China by improving its connectivity with the rest of China and the outside world. Co-developed by Singapore and China, the CCI-ILSTC connects the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Maritime Silk Road, allowing our businesses to benefit more from the continued growth and integration of our regions. As an open and inclusive platform, the benefits of the CCI-ILSTC will be amplified as we bring more partners on board, build economies of scale, and lower costs for all.
8. Concurrently, to strengthen this network effect, businesses can leverage opportunities provided by the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, or RCEP. The RCEP will complement the CCI-ILSTC through provisions that increase market access and help businesses save time and costs.
9. I am confident that Singapore and China will continue to work together to demonstrate the benefits of greater regional integration, increase our resilience, and secure our recovery in the post-COVID world.
10. I wish the WCIF every success. Thank you.