Business Guide · July 31, 2021

S’pore can bridge trade gaps between China and India

Singapore is poised to play a role in bridging trade gaps between China and India.

That is according to experts speaking at a forum on Singapore as a springboard for South Asia at the second day of the South Asian Diaspora Convention 2011 at Resorts World Sentosa.

They said Singapore’s ability to connect cultures may help ease the challenges of doing business on both sides.

Stronger trade relations between China and India still face some headwinds.

While relations between the two countries are getting better, experts said there is still some overhang.

Piyush Gupta, CEO of DBS, said: “Being an important conduit for connecting up China and India in an honest broker sense is really a critical role for Singapore to play. If you think about the huge amounts of investment requirements in India going forward, and you think at the other end of the huge surpluses in China, you would imagine that is a marriage made in heaven.

“In reality, to accept Chinese investment in Indian infrastructure or project financing in India, it will never be easy, I think not in the short- and medium-term.”

But experts believe Singapore’s open economy and connectivity to North and South Asia can help bridge this gap.

Over 3,000 Indian companies now use Singapore as a base.

And some said it is a step in the right direction.

S Nasim, global CEO of Meinhardt Group International, said: “Singapore has a natural sort of advantage of being a Chinese-speaking country. And therefore, having a base in Singapore will help you to enter into China.

“(As for)…Indian companies directly going into China, (it) may not be so convenient for them. So it is better for them to have a base here, go from here as a Singapore company or a Singapore-based company, and I think they will find they will be more welcome, and at the same time, they will understand how to do business in China. If you know how to do business in Singapore, I think you can do business in China.”

Meanwhile, some Singaporean firms like Ascendas see themselves playing a key role.

Chong Siak Ching, president and CEO of Ascendas, said: “We are in a very fortunate position where we have operated in both countries – developing IT parks in India and developing industrial parks in China – to now cross-transfer the expertise into the countries, India and China.”

Experts said a convergence in economic policies can help China learn from India’s success in the service sector, particularly in IT, while India can learn from China’s manufacturing economy. – CNA