Pledge to deepen bilateral economic cooperation
Yew Sung Pei is assistant chief executive officer of Enterprise Singapore, overseeing operations in China, and is currently based in Shanghai.
He began his career in the Civil Service in July 1985 and has been posted to various positions in Beijing, Shanghai and Taipei. He talked about the roles Enterprise Singapore is playing and the cooperation between Singapore and Shanghai.
Q: Enterprise Singapore, what is it?
It is the Singapore government agency championing enterprise development. We work with companies to build capabilities, innovate and internationalize. We also support the growth of Singapore as a hub for global trading and startups, as well as play the role of the national standards and accreditation body, helping to build trust in Singapore’s products and services through quality and standards. Quality and standards add to the competitive offerings of our Singapore companies, making them ideal business partners.
We support companies based on their needs at different stages of their growth, and have in place a mix of financial and non-financial assistance to do so. Enterprise Singapore has over 35 overseas centers, where we build relations with the local government authorities and private sector, and connect Singapore companies to potential projects they can collaborate in. We have nine offices in China.
Q: What is Enterprise Singapore’s role and what synergy can be leveraged between Singapore and Shanghai, both eying to act as a hub for technology innovation?
Enterprise Singapore will deepen collaboration with global and local partners to strengthen the innovation and startup ecosystem. This is aligned to the country’s Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 Plan.
As part of this, Enterprise Singapore will continue to help startups build track record and provide access to mentors, funding and workspaces. We see startups playing an important role in catalyzing and driving innovation for the economy.
Shanghai, too, places great emphasis on innovation. For example, it is at the forefront of piloting and implementing China’s economic reforms — the establishment of the Shanghai Stock Exchange in 1990 and the Shanghai free trade zone in 2013 are clear examples.
To develop an innovation-driven economy, and help more enterprises capture opportunities globally, Singapore understands the importance of connecting to other hubs and collaborating with the world. It is timely for Singapore and Shanghai to come together given the shift of global economic activities towards Asia.
Enterprise Singapore and Shanghai Science and Technology Commission signed an MOU to facilitate innovative projects between Singapore and Shanghai enterprises in sectors such as bio-pharmaceutical and life science, urban solutions and smart city development.
In addition, Enterprise Singapore will also be working with XNode to boost startup collaboration between Singapore and Shanghai startups. This will help facilitate the exchange of ideas and more partnerships.
Shanghai enterprises and startups can also leverage Singapore’s vibrant innovation ecosystem, established business infrastructure and familiarity with Southeast Asia markets to springboard into the region.
Q: Since Singapore and China have been strengthening bilateral collaboration, what is your biggest success?
Both sides have been partnering closely on several key projects and initiatives, such as the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park, Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city and the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative. These have generated numerous business opportunities for Singapore and Chinese companies.
Bilateral trade and investments have been growing steadily. Today, there are more than 20,000 Singapore projects in China. Singapore companies that have ventured into the market cut across various industries, from infrastructure, urban solutions and logistics to food services, food manufacturing, retail, education, health care and professional services. The format and nature of partnerships have also evolved with the developments and needs of both economies.
We also observed many strong collaborations and exchanged ideas between businesses, research institutes and universities, and growing people-to-people exchanges.
Moving forward, we hope to work more closely in emerging areas such as innovation and technology, health care and biomed, manufacturing and much more.
Q: What’s your expectation for this year’s Pujiang Innovation Forum with Singapore as the country of honor?
Singapore is delighted to be the country of honor this year at Pujiang Innovation Forum. As the organizers leading the country forum, Enterprise Singapore and the National Research Foundation have focused discussions on two key topics close to the hearts of both Singapore and China — “Building a Sustainable Future Together” and “Health 2050.” The speakers comprise industry experts from both Singapore and China businesses, universities and research institutes.
Both Singapore and China share similar challenges arising from urbanization and an aging population. We hope that the forum will help drive exchanges on how we can better address current and future challenges in these areas.
Q: What will be the priority of the Singapore-Shanghai Comprehensive Cooperation Council in the future?
It aims to deepen bilateral economic cooperation between Singapore and Shanghai, and enhance connectivity between both markets. It will focus on six key areas: Belt and Road Initiative, financial services, technology and innovation, urban governance, ease of doing business, and people-to-people exchanges.
Importantly, the above promote cooperation across economic, social and cultural aspects, and are in line with both cities’ economic strategies. Beyond collaboration, we hope the council can also help Singapore companies better access the opportunities in our respective regions.