Business Councils between Singapore and China

Singapore-Guangdong Collaboration Council

The Singapore-Guangdong Collaboration Council (SGCC) was launched on 24 March 2009, witnessed by then-Singapore Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and Guangdong Party Secretary Wang Yang. SGCC aims to promote cooperation between Singapore and Guangdong beyond economic areas, including training, tourism and education exchanges. Ong Ye Kung, Singapore Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) & Second Minister for Defence, is the Co-Chairman of SGCC.

SGCC has facilitated numerous projects, including the Sino Visitor Pass, a cross-border collaboration between Singapore’s EZ-Link Private Limited and Guangzhou Lingnan Pass, and the flagship Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City project (SSGKC), which aims to attract knowledge-based enterprises to jump-start Guangdong’s economic transformation.

Amid rising land and labour costs, it is crucial to create knowledge-based industries to drive growth. Recognising this, both the Guangdong Government and Central Government of China have supported the development of an integrated Intellectual Property (IP) Hub at the SSGKC, which will include Guangdong’s first IP court and the Guangdong Patent Examination and Cooperation Centre. The project will also be home to the first overseas office of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore-International (IPOS-I), further boosting cross-border IP cooperation and the expansion of IP-related services in Guangdong.

Beyond the SSGKC, Guangdong is also focusing on social development as it undergoes rapid socio-economic change. Property group CapitaLand Limited has played an important role in this push, with a massive urban rejuvenation project covering an area about the size of Singapore’s Toa Payoh. Singapore companies and government agencies have contributed by sharing capabilities and experiences, in areas including urban planning, healthcare, community development and environmental management.

Guangdong province has been Singapore’s top provincial trading partner since 1988, with bilateral trade hitting S$36.5 billion in 2016. Singapore’s investments in Guangdong reached S$463.8 million in 2016, with cumulative actual investments of about $15.1 billion.

Singapore-Jiangsu Cooperation Council

The Singapore-Jiangsu Cooperation Council (SJCC) was officially launched on 1 November 2007. Beyond trade and economics, the SJCC focuses on forging partnerships in areas such as education, tourism, as well as science and technology. Heng Swee Keat, Singapore Minister for Finance, is the Co-Chairman of SJCC. Dr Koh Poh Koon, Singapore Senior Minister of State, Ministry of National Development & Trade and Industry, is the Vice Co-Chairman.

At the second meeting of the SJCC, the late Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew mooted an idea for an educational exchange that would further strengthen relations between the two sides. The Jiangsu Scholarship Programme, which began in 2010, gives talented Jiangsu students the opportunity to study in Singapore – providing valuable human capital for both Jiangsu and Singapore.

In 2013, the National University of Singapore (NUS) also notched a first in Singapore-China relations with the establishment of the NUS Suzhou Research Institute, the first research institute in China independently operated and managed by a Singapore university.

These initiatives have strengthened bilateral ties between Singapore and Jiangsu – a relationship which began in 1994 when then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew signed an agreement with Chinese Vice Premier Li Lanqing for the joint development of Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP). The landmark undertaking was the first flagship project between the governments of Singapore and China, laying the foundation for strong Singapore-China ties.

Since the SJCC’s inception, bilateral trade between Singapore and Jiangsu has grown from US$9.1 billion in 2007 to US$9.8 billion in 2016. Singapore’s cumulative actual investments in Jiangsu exceed US$27 billion as at end September 2017.

One platform project supported under SJCC is the Singapore Nanjing Eco Hi-Tech Island (SNEHTI), which includes developments such as the Sembcorp Nanjing International Water Hub (NIWH). It is a one-stop centre for water solutions and an international showcase for latest water technologies. When completed, NIWH will facilitate the development and commercialisation of new water technologies. Yanlord Land will also be developing a tourist attraction on the island: a theme park based on Ming Dynasty culture.

Singapore-Liaoning Economic and Trade Council

The Singapore-Liaoning Economic and Trade Council (SLETC) was established on 18 November 2003. Its launch was witnessed by Singapore’s then-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. The Council aims to promote economic exchanges and cooperation between Liaoning province and Singapore.

Liaoning is the most prosperous province in China’s northernmost regions, and the only coastal one. Although it is one of the farthest provinces from Singapore, that has not stopped our companies from reaching out to establish valuable trade links with the region, with bilateral trade at US$4.0 billion in 2015. Singapore is one of Liaoning’s largest foreign investors, with cumulative actual investments of US$5.7 billion as of May 2016.

Leaders of key cities such as Dalian and Shenyang make a point to visit Singapore on their annual trade and investment missions, and vice-versa. Such mutual visits have not only strengthened ties, but also made it possible for Singapore companies to kick-start new projects in Liaoning’s growing economy with the council’s assistance.

In its early years, the council laid the foundation for Singapore industry leaders to grow their companies in the province. Projects included the Ascendas IT Park in Dalian, PSA Corporation’s joint venture with the Dalian Port Group, and the development of the Northeastern Modern Services Hub. China’s northeast provinces, including Liaoning, are one of the focus points in China's 13th Five-Year Plan.

The council is looking at new opportunities in the areas of industrial automation and modern services such as education, healthcare, logistics, and urban solutions. SMEs like Fujicon Engineering and Armstrong Industrial are collaborating with Liaoning industries in robotics and hi-tech manufacturing. Education players such as Etonhouse and Character Montessori have also ventured to Liaoning, while Crestar Education Group and Q&M Dental Group have established stronger presence by venturing into lesser known cities such as Anshan, Yingkou and Panjin.

Other projects signed during the 9th SLETC in 2016 include contracts in the hospitality and logistics industries. Under the Citadines brand, Ascott will manage its third property in Dalian, providing serviced apartments for Liaoning’s expatriate community. Mapletree Logistics and GLP have also secured investments to build modern logistics and hi-tech industrial facilities in Shenyang.

Singapore-Shandong Business Council

Established in 1993, the Singapore-Shandong Business Council (SSBC) was the first council between Singapore and China. It was a result of the mutual desire to strengthen economic and trade cooperation by Singapore’s then-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and then-Shandong Governor Zhao Zhihao. Chee Hong Tat Singapore Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information and Ministry of Health, is the Co-Chairman of SSBC.

Today, bilateral trade stands at S$3.8 billion, spanning from engineering and manufacturing, to education and tourism industries. Singapore is Shangdong’s third largest foreign investor with more than US$13 billion in cumulative investments as of end December 2017.

In 2014, the council achieved a new milestone with the inauguration of a city-level Qingdao panel to support pilot projects in urban solutions and technology. Current projects involving Singapore companies are Qingdao’s new airport and an eco-smart city in Jinan. With increased bilateral trade, Shandong companies such as Shandong Energy Group, Lobb Heng Group, and Qingdao Iron & Steel Group have also established trading entities in Singapore.

Singapore-Sichuan Trade and Investment Committee

The Singapore-Sichuan Trade and Investment Committee (SSTIC) is a bilateral economic framework aimed at strengthening Singapore's economic relations with Sichuan province. It was formed in May 1996 and comprises public and private sector members from Singapore and Sichuan. Ng Chee Meng, Singapore Minister for Education (Schools) & Second Minister for Transport, is the Co-Chairman of SSTIC. Lim Swee Say, Singapore Minister for Manpower is the Advisor to SSTIC.

Trade ties between the two regions have steadily strengthened since SSTIC’s launch more than 20 years ago. The committee has evolved from the pursuit of purely economic interests to include cultural, education, and other meaningful exchanges.

In 2010, the two regions took their relationship to the next level, by agreeing to collaborate on the Singapore-Sichuan High-Tech Innovation Park (SSHTIP). Located in the Tianfu New Area central start-up zone, the mixed-use development will provide opportunities for retail and hospitality outfits, as well as innovative and knowledge-centred enterprises in industries such as IT, biomedicine, finance, and environmental technology. Construction began in 2012 and the project is estimated to be completed by 2020.

The two regions have continued to maintain their close friendship and are now exploring opportunities in consumer-related and aviation logistics industries, especially in Chengdu. As western China’s centre of commerce, as well as a major transportation hub, the provincial capital has attracted dozens of businesses. Second-tier cities such as Luzhou, Deyang and Mianyang also show untapped potential for growth.

Singapore was Sichuan’s top foreign investor in 2016, with total cumulative actual investments having reached S$8.1 billion across 562 projects. Bilateral trade reached US$1.1 billion in 2016.

Singapore-Tianjin Economic and Trade Council

The Singapore-Tianjin Economic and Trade Council (STETC) was established on 25 January 2007 to promote broader exchanges and cooperation between the business communities of Tianjin and Singapore. The launch of the STETC was witnessed by Singapore Minister for Trade & Industry Lim Hng Kiang and Chinese Vice-Minister of Commerce Ma Xiuhong. Lawrence Wong, Singapore Minister for National Development & Second Minister for Finance, is the current Co-Chairman of STETC. Desmond Lee, Minister for Social and Family Development & Second Minister for National Development is the Vice Co-Chairman.

Since STETC’s inception, economic ties between the two sides have continued to strengthen. In 2016, bilateral trade between Singapore and Tianjin reached US$9.3 billion, with 905 projects signed. The two sides have worked closely on projects in various industries, including environmental services and urban solutions.

A notable large-scale collaboration is the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City. The second government-to-government collaboration between Singapore and China, the project aims to be a beacon of environmental sustainability. In 2014, a bilateral push for financial innovation led to the People’s Bank of China’s Tianjin branch announcing new measures allowing companies and individuals in the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City to conduct cross-border RMB transactions with Singapore. On the education front, Singapore preschool chain Ednovation has unveiled ambitious plans for expansion in Tianjin, with an agreement to set up kindergartens in property group Yanlord Land’s developments.

Over the years, a push for Singapore SMEs to grow their businesses in Tianjin has proven fruitful. The ever-strengthening ties between Singapore and Tianjin have made it possible for hundreds of home-grown enterprises to take their businesses abroad, through our support networks and assistance schemes.

Chinese medicine healthcare group Ma Kuang, for example, aims to grow a chain of 500 clinics in Tianjin – a scale of expansion near impossible in Singapore. Other home-grown companies such as Capitaland, Hyflux, Keppel and Mapletree are among the many firms that have established flourishing businesses in Tianjin.

Singapore-Zhejiang Economic and Trade Council

The Singapore-Zhejiang Economic and Trade Council (SZETC) was established on 18 November 2003. The launch of SZETC was witnessed by then-Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. The Council aims to promote economic exchanges and cooperation between Zhejiang province and Singapore. Sim Ann, Singapore Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth & Ministry of Trade and Industry, is the Co-Chairman of SZETC.

Initially, the two sides focused mainly on real estate and manufacturing industries, and encouraged Zhejiang’s Privately-Owned Enterprises (POEs) to list on the Singapore Exchange. Wanxiang Group, one of the largest POEs in Zhejiang, established its Singapore presence, Wanxiang Resources (Singapore), in 2005, dealt in metal trade and oil products. Stainless steel product manufacturer Tsingshan Holding Group followed suit, establishing its Singapore arm in 2011. Since then, Singapore and Zhejiang have broadened their approach to include modern services such as the planning of townships, education, transport, logistics, tourism and finance, among others.

On 24 November 2014, the SZETC held its 10th meeting in Singapore. The meeting marked Zhejiang Party Secretary Xia Baolong’s first official visit to Singapore, and saw a record 15 project agreements worth some $3 billion inked between Singapore and Zhejiang firms. Since then, ties between Singapore and Zhejiang have continued to strengthen. As of June 2017, Singapore’s cumulative actual investment in Zhejiang reached S$7 billion with 1,178 projects. Bilateral trade for the first nine months of the year stood at S$3.6 billion.