Mr Khoong Hock Yun, Assistant Chief Executive, (Industry) Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) Speech at the Singapore-Hangzhou IT Seminar, Zhejiang World Trade Centre, Hangzhou
Mr Khoong Hock Yun, Assistant Chief Executive, (Industry)
Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA)
Speech at the Singapore-Hangzhou IT Seminar, Zhejiang World Trade Centre, Hangzhou
China, 21 April 2004
Good afternoon Mr Fu Du-er, Deputy Chief of Zhejiang Province
Foreign Trade Economic Cooperation Bureau,
Mr Chen Daxin, Bureau Chief of Zhejiang Province Informatization Industries,
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to speak to you this afternoon at the first Singapore-Hangzhou IT Development & Technology seminar organised by the SiTF and the Hangzhou East Software Park. I am happy to see today's gathering of Chinese and Singapore businessmen as it affirms the great interest on both sides in working together to grow the IT sector in Asia.
Growing Bilateral Ties
Singapore and China have long enjoyed close economic ties. Business cooperation between Singapore and China has yielded rich economic benefits for both countries. Bilateral trade between the 2 cities has grown 7 times over the last 12 years, from US$3 billion in 19911 to over US$21 billion in 20032. Singaporean companies have invested over US$39.6 billion in China through more than 10,000 projects. Chinese companies have also been actively engaged with Singapore.
I am encouraged to note that a total of 41 Chinese enterprises3 have been listed on the Singapore Exchange. Many Zhejiang companies are choosing to list in Singapore. The Shaoxing Jishan Group is one of the first Zhejiang companies that has received approval from the Singapore Exchange as "Eligible for Listing", and is only pending approval from the Monetary Authority of Singapore. I would like to encourage more Zhejiang companies to list in Singapore. It is also interesting to note that Singapore's trade with Zhejiang has increased by 67.4% from 2002 to 20034. Contractual investment by Singapore-based companies in Zhejiang as at end 2003 stood at US$1.52 billion5.
With China's entry into the WTO, I believe China will find the use of IT vital for preparing and equipping its companies for increased competition. In this aspect, China can tap on Singaporean companies' experience in developing IT solutions for the government and international clients.
Forging Winning Partnerships
Asia is the world's brightest economic spot with a projected GDP growth of 5.9% in 20046. It is expected to outperform the rest of the world economy including the US, Japan, and the rest of the Europe.
Although it has high growth potential, Asia also faces a diversity of markets. To tap on the growing but diverse markets, companies will need to form alliances and partnerships to exchange technical know-how, learn from each other's best business practices, and share risks.
Singapore-China Collaborative Efforts
With the growth potential in Asia, we believe that there are indeed immense opportunities for cooperation between Singapore and China. In this regard, IDA is committed to build collaborations between Singaporean and Chinese companies in piloting new technologies and innovative IT solutions in the areas of Financial Services, Logistics, Transport, Healthcare, and e-Government. We also welcome Zhejiang enterprises to set up presence in Singapore.
Through partnerships with Singaporean companies, Chinese enterprises can leverage on Singapore's connectivity to export its solutions and services to serve the larger markets in the region. Singapore can serve as a gateway for companies planning to expand their operations in the Asia and beyond.
Where is Singapore today? Singapore's infocomm industry grew 5% from $30.7billion to $32billion Sing Dollars in 20027. We have also built over the years a pro-business environment & good infrastructure. Today, Singapore is home to over 6,000 multinational companies of which 60% have regional responsibilities. Singapore is also strategically located to reach a market of 2.8 billion people within a 7-hour flight radius. Singapore has built a reputation for being one of the financial hubs in the world. The presence of some 700 reputable and leading institutions has contributed to the vibrancy of Singapore's financial industry. We have also built business networks through FTAs with countries such as Australia, Japan, NZ, and more recently with the US. This enables us to move goods, people and information around the world readily. Singapore's efforts to build a conducive business environment have given us recognition for having the Best Business Environment in Asia Pacific8 and for having the strongest IP Protection laws in Asia9. These strong fundamentals have enabled Singapore to play a key role in many companies' global growth strategy.
In terms of infrastructure, Singapore is one of the most connected cities in the world. We have some 21 Terabits per second of submarine cable capacity, and more than 13 Gigabits per second of direct internet connectivity to over 20 countries. This comprises more than 100 Megabits per second of connectivity (internet) to each key ASEAN country, and some 5 Gigabits per second connectivity (internet) to the US.
Singapore has also done fairly well in a number of global and regional rankings for our IT infrastructure & environment. For example, the World Economic Forum has recently ranked Singapore 2nd "most networked country" in the world right after the US, as well as having the 2nd most IT-savvy population10 in the world. Currently, our mobile penetration stands at over 84%, and over three quarters of our companies use internet for their businesses11.
Singapore's Flagship Projects
Our achievements are also made possible with the support of our Singapore companies. Many of our homegrown infocomm companies, some of whom are here with us today, have built deep seated knowledge and expertise in offering a wide spectrum of specialised IT solutions in numerous key sectors. I will now take you through some of the flagship projects which are implemented by our Singapore IT companies.
In the area of Logistics, Singapore has made a headstart in terms of developing nationwide IT platforms such as TradeNET. Under TradeNET, virtually all trading declarations sent by the cargo community can be processed within 30 minutes and some even less than 5 minutes. Developed by CrimsonLogic, TradeNet has generated an estimated savings of USD1billion to Singapore's trading community.
As hospitals in China become increasingly sophisticated, there exists a greater need for more advanced health information systems. There is great potential for IT integration services in China's healthcare sector. Singapore's healthcare IT solutions for hospital management are amongst the most advanced in the world. For example, Singapore Computer System's Hospital Information System has been successfully implemented in various healthcare settings in Singapore as well as in hospitals in Malaysia and Shanghai. This solution offers useful features such as in-patient & out-patient management systems, and electronic medical records systems.
In the area of Transportation, Singapore companies have established a good reputation for providing innovative and competitive products and services. For example, Stratech Systems have recently unveiled and demonstrated their next generation gantry-less Electronic Road Pricing System "live" in Shanghai city. This makes use of global positioning system (GPS) and 3G communications to track vehicles via satellite without the need for physical gantries.
Lastly, in the Financial Services Industry (FSi), many Singapore infocomm companies have acquired years of experience in offering world-class IT solutions and expertise to many major banks. For example, IPACS Computer Services is a full-fledged IT service provider with more than 13 years track record in offering a full suite of IT services in the China FSi sector. These services include software development, systems integration, network security, e-Government services, amongst others. Another leading IT provider, FairEx has successfully created and globally patented financial systems products. It offers a multitude of high speed and secured trading platforms that are all interlinked. Some of its clients include Deutsche Bank, iOCBC, Pacific Asset Management and ABB Treasury.
Singapore-China Collaborative Efforts
I am glad to say that Singapore & Chinese companies have already started working together. We have gone one step further to better provide opportunities for companies from both countries to do so. Just yesterday, the Singapore Solutions Centre was officially opened by Singapore's Minister for Information & the Arts, Dr Lee Boon Yang at the Raffles City in Shanghai. The Singapore Solutions Centre or SSC is a one-stop platform pioneered by IDA and the SiTF to showcase the best of "Made-In-Singapore" solutions. It is a centre where Chinese enterprises can identify suitable Singapore partners, develop localised applications, and market these solutions for the China market. As of today, 19 companies are participating in this venture, focusing on 4 key sectors such as financial services, logistics, transport, and healthcare. As a clear demonstration of our support and commitment to this initiative, IDA has also relocated our Shanghai office here within the SSC.
Besides the SSC, the Singapore Zhejiang Economic Trade Council (SZETC) was set up in November last year to promote greater cooperation between Singapore and Zhejiang. As we speak, our Minister is with the Zhejiang Province Governor, Lu Zushan to discuss how we can promote stronger economic ties between the two cities. One of the agenda is to push forward the possibility of setting up Liaison Offices to formalise collaborations between Zhejiang and Singapore. The main objective of these Liaison Offices is to assist Singapore companies develop partnerships with suitable Zhejiang IT companies. Another potential collaboration is the proposed setting up of a Singapore-Zhejiang IT park in Hangzhou to promote cooperations in IT manufacturing and software development.
The Singapore Zhejiang Economic Trade Council (SZETC) has also facilitated the setting up of a Zhejiang Centre in Singapore. The Zhejiang Centre serves as a business centre for Zhejiang companies to promote strategic partnerships with Singapore-based enterprises. The Zhejiang Centre has so far assisted 2 companies namely Chaoyang Group Co. Ltd and Zhejiang Jialong Antisepsis Project Co. Ltd, to set up representative offices in Singapore. I welcome more Zhejiang enterprises to set up presence in Singapore.
Other government-to-government collaborations include the setting up of the China Innovation Centre for High Technology Enterprises in October last year to help over 28,000 Chinese high-tech enterprises innovate and internationalise. Based in Singapore, it serves as a technology incubator centre to help small and medium IT companies in China use Singapore as a launch pad into the global marketplace.
Businesses are beginning to see the value of cross border cooperation in raising a company's profile and presence in the expanding Asian markets. With strong bilateral relations on both sides, I am optimistic that cooperation between Singapore and Chinese companies will strengthen in the coming years. And on this note, I wish all of you a fruitful and beneficial seminar ahead. Thank you.
1MFA, Launch of SCCI in Beijing, 22 Aug 2002
2MFA, 4th Singapore International Foundation Overseas Conference, 28 Feb 2004
3IESingapore, First Zhejiang Company to List in Singapore, More in Pipeline Press Release, 6 Apr 2004
4IE Singapore, Singapore & Zhejiang Firm Up Targets for Closer Cooperation Press Release, 5 Apr 2004
5IE Singapore, Singapore & Zhejiang Firm Up Targets for Closer Cooperation Press Release, 5 Apr 2004
6Asian Development Outlook 2003 (ADO)
7IDA Annual Survey on Infocomm Industry for 2002
8EIU Country Forecast 2003
9Political & Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) 2003
10Network Readiness Index 2002-2003, World Economic Forum
11IDA Annual Survey of Infocomm Usage in Businesses 2002