Singapore companies “have much to offer” to India in developing of special economic zones (SEZs), according to the City-State's Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang.
Speaking at a day-long seminar, organised by the Indian High Commission, here on Tuesday, Mr. Lim cited Singapore's expertise in drawing up and implementing master plans and in collaborating on issues of logistics and transport. As an example, he said, Singapore's Changi Airport International, in association with the Bengal Aerotropolis Projects, had “pioneered” India's first greenfield unit in this new domain. “When completed, the aerotropolis will not only house an airport but also an industrial park, logistics hub, information technology park, and supporting infrastructure like housing, tourism and healthcare facilities.”
The City-State could, in the light of its technical track record in China and Vietnam as also other markets, contribute to India's SEZs, said Mr. Lim.
India's High Commissioner T.C.A. Raghavan said the “significant reduction” in the bilateral trade with Singapore in the more recent period was traceable to “global factors” such as recession. However, India's macroeconomic stability and its recent export profile should have a positive impact in this bilateral sector.
India and Singapore would soon review their Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), which came into effect shortly after it was signed in 2005. The review “will certainly address the areas, which, both sides feel, can do with more focus on,” said Dr. Raghavan. One such area was the mutual recognition of professional degrees on either side in the services sector.
Option of both pacts
On the perceived overlap between the CECA and New Delhi's recently-activated free trade agreement with the Association of South East Asian Nations, he said the players in the City-State's economic domain would have “the option of both these agreements.”
About the seminar on “opportunities in the SEZ sector in India,” said to be the first of its kind abroad, Dr. Raghavan said the initiative was designed to provide a platform for zeroing in on a key sub-sector. Such a micro-level focus was considered necessary because “the overall argument is well known that India's economy is going to be a growth story.”
Thematic sessions of the seminar were moderated by Singapore's Ambassador-at-Large Gopinath Pillai and the Chairman of Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vijay Iyengar.