SINGAPORE: Singapore is looking at ways to deepen its ties with
China and it sees an opportunity to do so in the services sector.
Education Minister and Second Minister for Finance Tharman
Shanmugaratnam made these points in his opening address at the East
Asian Institute's 10th Anniversary Conference on Monday, where some of
the top academics came together to discuss China's economic, social and
political directions in the future.
Trade and investment ties between Singapore and China have been widening.
In fact, looking at it on a per capita basis, Mr Tharman said Singapore
must surely rank number one in terms of China's trading partners and
sources of investment.
In 2006, Singapore's two-way trade with China reached US$35 billion
and Singapore's Cumulative Foreign Direct Investment in China amounted
to US$28 billion.
And there is more promise to expand this further in logistics,
environmental engineering, finance, health and education services.
For example, Mr Tharman said it would benefit both sides if Chinese
businesses could take advantage of the large pool of international
investors here and raise capital on the Singapore market.
He said: "Singapore can complement Shanghai and Hong Kong in this
regard, although they will naturally be the primary markets for IPOs by
Chinese companies. I would not be surprised if the diversification of
capital-raising to Singapore and other financial centres would help
moderate the speculative cycles in Chinese stocks."
Singapore's relationship with China also goes beyond economics.
There is a growing collaboration in education that sees more than a
third of all Singapore schools having some form of twinning
relationship with Chinese schools as both countries strive to reform
their educational system to better equip their students.
Plans to expand training links between China and Singapore in
technical and vocational education for Chinese officials are also in