G2G projects play ‘enabling role’ to help Singapore firms go global: Iswaran
Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing at the opening of the CCI Administrative Bureau Office in January 2016. (Photo: Jeremy Koh)
SINGAPORE: Government-to-Government (G2G) projects, including the Suzhou Industrial Park, play an “enabling role” in helping Singapore companies to enter and scale up in fast-growing markets, such as China and India, said Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S Iswaran in Parliament on Monday (Oct 2).Over the years, many homegrown firms have tapped on G2G projects to go abroad, he added.In the case of the Suzhou Industrial Park – the first flagship project between the China and Singapore governments, started 23 years ago – about 340 Singapore companies have established a presence there as of the end of 2016.Of these, about 70 per cent are small companies with registered capital of up to S$1 million, according to Mr Iswaran. Cumulative contractual investments by Singapore-based companies in the Suzhou Industrial Park amounted to S$9.4 billion by the end of last year, he added.Mr Iswaran raised the example of intellectual property (IP) intelligence start-up PatSnap, which managed to scale up globally after making its first step into the Suzhou Industrial Park.
The start-up, founded in 2007, now sees its software being sold in over 40 countries to more than 1,300 clients. It also announced in March plans to invest S$22 million in a research and development (R&D) centre in Singapore. To date, the centre has hired more than 10 data scientists.
Apart from companies, the National University of Singapore has also established a Research Institute – the NUS (Suzhou) Research Institute – in the Suzhou Industrial park, Mr Iswaran said.
The NUSRI, which has served as a springboard for Singapore start-ups to incubate and scale up in China, is currently incubating 37 Singapore and international technology start-ups.
Meanwhile, the Tianjin Eco-city has 42 registered Singapore companies as of June 2017, with a total registered capital of more than S$220 million. Mr Iswaran said these companies include small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) in a range of sectors, such as environmental services, property, education, urban solutions and logistics.
Mr Iswaran was responding to a parliamentary question from Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera who wanted to know how many Singapore-based companies have invested in the Government's overseas industrial park projects that enjoy G2G support, and how many of these are Government-linked companies (GLCs), SMEs and multinationals (MNCs) respectively.
He also wanted to know whether the ministry has evidence on the spin-off benefits of these G2G projects for the domestic economy and local SMEs.
To that, Mr Iswaran said: “Internationalisation remains an important strategy to sustain Singapore’s growth by helping our companies to develop beyond our domestic market."
He went on to outline the three fundamental objectives of initiatives such as G2G projects.
"First, it is to help our companies grow beyond our domestic market. Second, with that skill, it allows them to undertake a broader range of initiatives and invest more in their capabilities.
"Third, it allows us to also create good opportunities for Singaporeans. Not just in terms of pursing opportunities in these markets but also developing capabilities here," said Mr Iswaran, referring to PatSnap's hiring of data scientists at its local R&D centre.He also said that Singapore’s newer G2G projects will continue to help local companies "gain a first-mover advantage" in new markets and regions.For one, the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative project has opened up business opportunities in the less developed western region of China, and facilitates the participation of Singapore companies in sectors such as financial services, aviation, transport and logistics, and information and communications technology.
Launched in 2015, the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative project is the third and latest G2G project between Singapore and China.The Amaravati project to build a new capital city in India's Andhra Pradesh, will also give Singapore companies the opportunity to export our expertise, in urban solutions and other domains, he said.
“With our early involvement in the initiative, our companies including SMEs will be well-positioned to offer their services and participate in projects, within the state of Andhra Pradesh as well as the broader Indian market, as the capital city takes off,” Mr Iswaran said.