Senior Minister of State Grace Fu and Tianjin Vice Mayor Ren Xuefeng co-chair third Singapore-Tianjin Economic and Trade Council meeting in Singapore today and witness four project signings, three of which involve the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City.

In line with Tianjin´s plans to transform into a digitally-connected city and develop its services sectors, infocomm technology (ICT) and modern services will be the key areas of focus for Singapore-Tianjin economic collaboration.

At the third Singapore-Tianjin Economic and Trade Council (STETC) meeting held in Singapore today, both sides agreed to work closely on adopting ICT to develop Tianjin as an e-City, as well as to explore modern services, such as «Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions» (MICE) and retail services.

The meeting was co-chaired by the Vice Chairmen of the STETC, namely Senior Minister of State (SMS) for National Development and Education Grace Fu, and Tianjin Vice Mayor Ren Xuefeng. The Co-Chairmen for the council are Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan and Tianjin Mayor Huang Xingguo, with International Enterprise (IE) Singapore as the Singapore secretariat for STETC.

Said SMS Fu, «This is the third year since the Council was established and we have seen good progress in bilateral economic collaboration. This includes the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city and projects spanning various sectors such as environmental services, hospitality, vocational and technical education (VTE), and more. We hope to continue to partake in growth sectors aligned to Tianjin´s development plans and offer not just our consultancy expertise, but project management capabilities as well. The council has identified two key areas to work on for the new coming year, namely leveraging ICT to develop an e-City, and modern services. These are areas that Singapore companies have strong abilities in.»

Following the meeting, SMS Fu and Vice Mayor Ren witnessed four company/association project signings:

  • MICE – MOU between Singapore Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (SACEOS) and Tianjin International Convention & Exhibition Association to collaborate in expertise exchange, manpower training and organisation of international events.
  • Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City – Land Use Rights Transfer Agreement signing between Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City Investment and Development Co., Ltd. (SSTEC) and Sichuan Neautus Traditional Chinese Medicine.
  • Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City – Land Use Rights Transfer Agreement signing between SSTEC and Singapore´s Pan Asian Water Solutions.
  • Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City – MOU signing between SSTEC and Singapore´s Broadway Industrial Group.

Vice Mayor Ren is in town for a three-day visit from 8 – 10 June 2010 with a 35- strong delegation comprising government and business representatives. They will be visiting various Singapore companies to learn more about Singapore´s maritime and port industry, water and wastewater management, real estate and more.

Fast growth of Tianjin presents opportunities in modern services

In 2009, Tianjin´s GDP was ranked sixth in China, after the cities of Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Suzhou. Among these, Tianjin´s GDP growth was the highest at 16.5%. Tianjin´s GDP per capita also reached a relatively high figure of US$8,388 (+ 5%) in 2009, which was close to Beijing´s GDP per capita of US$10,0701. It also saw strong growth in the first quarter of 2010, with GDP at RMB 184.24 billion, an increase of 18.1% compared to the same period last year.

In addition, Tianjin was ranked sixth behind the cities of Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou in a study on the competitiveness of cities in China by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. In the same study, Tianjin was assessed to have the greatest potential for growth in the next 10 years. The above point to the fast growth and business potential of this municipality.

In January this year at the Tianjin Government Work Report2 sharing, Mayor Huang Xingguo highlighted the ten areas that the city is focusing on for 2010.

One of them is the development of the services industry, which plays an important role in economic transformation and restructuring, as well as improving the city´s competitiveness.

With Tianjin´s direction to focus more efforts in services across sectors such as tourism, financial services, logistics, hospitality and more, Singapore companies can come in to offer relevant expertise. The fact that our services sectors accounted for 69% of our GDP in 2009 (at current prices) reflect the importance of services to Singapore and our companies´ capabilities.

Building on close collaboration in tourism and VTE last year, other areas to partner include MICE and retail services.

Adopting ICT to develop Tianjin into an e-City

Singapore companies are also well equipped to offer ICT services and solutions for Tianjin to enhance its business and living environment as a digitally connected city. Singapore has adopted a close private-public partnership approach in its ICT journey, which has since played a significant role in transforming Singapore into a high-tech economy today, creating ease for both the business and social communities.

Singapore companies have developed domain expertise and experience in designing and implementing solutions that can be applied and integrated in various industries, including healthcare, financial services, transport, education and more. Examples include our integrated clinic management system, electronic road pricing system, CitizenConnect, etc.

Therefore, there is much potential in ICT collaboration as Tianjin seeks to become an e-City.

From January – April 2010, bilateral trade between Singapore and Tianjin amounted to US$0.3 billion, a decrease of 10% over the same period in 2009.

In 2009, bilateral trade amounted to US$1.73 billion, of which exports to Tianjin accounted for US$0.96 billion while imports from Tianjin accounted for US$0.77 billion. (Source: Tianjin Commission of Commerce)

From January – April 2010, Singapore´s actual foreign direct investments (FDI) in Tianjin hit US$0.19 billion with eight projects.

As of end April 2010, Singapore´s cumulative actual FDI in Tianjin amounted to US$3.32 billion with a total of 707 projects. In 2009, Singapore was Tianjin´s fifth largest investor. (Source: Tianjin Commission of Commerce)