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05 Sep 2019 Updated 05 Sep 2019

Singapore, Sichuan ink 17 pacts on back of jump in bilateral trade

The Business Times Sharon See

Singapore and China's Sichuan province are deepening cooperation in areas such as medical technology, transport, logistics and lifestyle, even as trade between the two posted a strong year-on-year growth of 42.8 per cent in 2018 despite uncertain global economic conditions.

That figure went up further in the first six months of 2019 to 50.3 per cent, compared with the same six-month period of 2018.

These figures were revealed on Wednesday at the 20th Singapore-Sichuan Trade & Investment Committee (SSTIC) meeting held at Shangri-la Hotel's Island Ballroom.

In a Mandarin speech to delegates from Singapore and Sichuan, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, Ng Chee Meng, said the two-way trade and investment flows are testament to Singapore and Sichuan businesses' ability to constantly innovate and play a useful role in each other's development priorities.

Mr Ng said small and medium enterprises (SMEs) play an important role in both Sichuan and Singapore economies, noting that Enterprise Singapore has brought more than 80 companies from sectors such as food, fintech, education, eldercare, pre-cast construction and lifestyle to Sichuan to seek partners and explore business opportunities.

He also urged Sichuan companies to use Singapore as a platform to expand in South-east Asia and beyond.

"Sichuan companies are strong in construction, engineering, and have significant financial, human and technological resources. Singapore companies have strong networks in the region, complementary strengths in urban solutions, transport and logistics, and modern services. They are also more culturally in-tuned with South-east Asia countries and could help Sichuan partners navigate the local environment," he said.

In an interview with Singapore media following the meeting, Mr Ng was asked if the continuing uncertainty in US-China trade relations would have an impact on Singapore companies moving into Sichuan.

"Many of my entrepreneur friends tell me that regardless of what may be happening in the rest of the areas, there are conditions on the ground that they can find a niche," he said, adding that medtech is one such area.

At the meeting, a medtech partnership, believed to be the first of its kind here, was signed between Singapore-based medtech firm Innovfusion and West China Hospital to co-develop a smart system for the administration of general anaesthesia.

The system - invented by KK Women's & Children's Hospital chief executive and Innovfusion co-founder Alex Sia - helps with automatic haemodynamic management. "When the system detects you have a drop in blood pressure, it will then give you drugs to modulate and bring it up to that level," Innovfusion's co-founder and chairman Theodore Tan said.

The firm's CEO Gabriel Tan said: "This is the top hospital in China with an anaesthesia department that is the most regarded (there) ... we're very fortunate that they chose to work with a Singapore company because of the foundation that we have built in what we've done in Singapore." In total, Singapore firms forged 17 partnerships with Sichuan organisations. Singapore-based Ademco Security Group, which has offices in Shanghai, will establish its West China headquarters in the Singapore Innovation Centre in Sichuan.

Toby Koh, Ademco's group managing director, said he sees immense opportunities in blockchain development in China.

He said: "In China at this point in time, blockchain is not something that is largely invested in ... It's something that we think that we can create value and we can bring Singapore technology into China and perhaps get a sliver of a very large market."


Source: The Business Times. Reproduced with permission.