Trade between Singapore and China's Guangdong province remains strong despite Covid-19

SINGAPORE – Bilateral trade between Singapore and Guangdong remains robust despite the Covid-19 pandemic, with firms pursuing opportunities in areas such as innovation, intellectual property (IP) and finance.

Singapore companies made investments amounting to 8.3 billion yuan (S$1.75 billion) in the Chinese province last year – almost 10 per cent more than investments made in 2019 despite Covid-19, Enterprise Singapore (ESG) said in a statement on Wednesday (Oct 20).

Bilateral trade between the two jurisdictions amounted to US$18.3 billion (S$24.6 billion) last year and reached US$9.7 billion in the first half of 2021.

Guangdong was Singapore’s top provincial trading partner last year.

Speaking at the virtual 12th Singapore-Guangdong Collaboration Council meeting on Wednesday, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said the province is a choice investment destination for Singapore companies, regardless of their size and operating sector.

ESG highlighted there is a growing diversity of Singapore firms undertaking collaborations in Guangdong, with enterprises attracted by the growth of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

For example, Singapore tech unicorn PatSnap is working with the Guangzhou Development District IP Bureau to facilitate policymaking. Its platform will help district officials understand their local companies’ technological strengths and identify new partnership opportunities.

Mr Ong, who co-chairs the council with Guangdong governor Ma Xingrui, highlighted how much progress has been made in areas of cooperation such as talent exchange and innovation.

He cited how SingChin Academy’s new school in Guangzhou, which offers a 12-year bilingual curriculum, admitted its inaugural batch of students last month.

The Guangzhou SingChin Academy is an affiliate of the Hwa Chong family of schools outside Singapore.

“With the development of the Greater Bay Area and Singapore’s focus on building a digital economy and sustainability, there is also scope for both sides to explore collaboration in smart manufacturing, healthcare and biomed, as well as green economy,” the minister said.

Mr Ong also pointed to how Singapore firms are making moves beyond the larger cities of Shenzhen and Guangzhou, to other sections of Guangdong’s Coastal Economic Belt including the cities of Shantou and Yangjiang.

For example, Bludotasia Engineering, which specialises in innovative retail concepts, is expanding its 14,600 sq m facility in Yangjiang to become a retail industrial park. On top of its current manufacturing and logistics management facilities, Bludotasia’s facility will also house small and medium-sized enterprises providing retail-related solutions.

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A total of 16 memoranda of understanding (MOUs) was signed at Wednesday’s meeting. It includes a letter of intent between Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University and the Guangdong Climate Centre of China to support the Guangdong government in the implementation of a parametric flood insurance scheme for the province.

A parametric insurance policy provides an immediate payout after an event occurs.

In his remarks, Mr Ong noted how Singapore, in recognition of Beijing’s effectiveness in controlling the pandemic, has opened its borders for quarantine-free travel for travellers from China since November last year.

“We look forward to this being reciprocated on both sides, so that our flow of people-to-people connection can be restored again in the not-distant future,” he said.

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