CE exclusive interview with Luo Jialiang, Singapore ambassador to China
By Li Hongmei, ce.cn
Thanks to joint efforts of both sides since the signing of China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (CSFTA) in 2008, and the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (FTA) was established in an all-round way in 2012, Sino-Singaporean bilateral economic and trade relations have kept growing to the mutual benefit of the two countries.
Mutual economic and trade cooperation constitutes an important component part of the friendly relations and cooperation between China and Singapore and it also provides a vital motive force to deepen and strengthen bilateral relations.
The cooperation between China and Singapore makes both economies more resilient with sustainable development.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with China Economic Net on Sep. 17 (Wednesday), Luo Jialiang, Singapore ambassador to China said he expected the pattern of the bilateral economic cooperation, which has been supported largely by the complementary nature of the two economies, to change in the future as both upgrade their economies.
Mr. Luo Jialiang said China is upgrading itself and doing more sophisticated activities, not just labor-intensive manufacturing, but high-skilled technology-intensive manufacturing and some of the services where Singapore has possessed an obvious strength.
The cooperation between China and Singapore has been expanding fast over the past decades. Many Singapore companies, including the home-grown banks, developers, logistics firms and consumer brands, are expanding their operations in the Chinese mainland market. Some of them are involved in the flagship bilateral cooperation projects -- from the Suzhou Industrial Park in the 1990s to the recent major projects such as the Tianjin Eco-City and the parks in Guangzhou, Nanjing, Jilin, Chengdu, Xi'an and Henan.
Luo said in the interview that Singapore, with geographic advantages and favorable policies, will be a good choice for Chinese enterprises to set up their offices. Singapore also hopes to become an offshore renminbi center and clearing center in the future, and the country has already made some progress, added Luo.
The tax rate in Singapore is low, with a corporate income tax rate of 17 percent and preferential tax for newly established enterprises. The highest personal income tax is 20 percent, compared with 45 percent in China.
Besides, bilateral trade volume between China and Singapore has scaled new heights. China's trade volume with Singapore hit S$100 billion in 2011, accounting for 10.4 percent of Singapore's total trade volume.
Meanwhile, China's inbound foreign direct investment (FDI) has also been on increase in recent years, and among all the countries/regions that have made direct investments in China, Singapore ranks one of the best.
The ambassador said Singaporean investment has not merely pivoted to China's coastal areas but it is also going inland, and to China's comparatively backward western regions.
The Singapore-Sichuan High-tech Innovation Park, planned to cover 10.34 square kilometers and house 120,000 residents in Gaoxin district and Tianfu district in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan, is expected to attract an investment of 100 billion yuan from 2012 to 2020. As the first Sino-Singapore large-scale integrated project, the park is expected to be a model for China's western development.
Looking ahead, Mr. Luo said he remains optimistic in the future Sino-Singaporean economic ties, which will be the brighter spot in the regional and global economy.
China and Singapore ought to work together to keep the vitality and vibrancy of their economies within the framework of the ASEAN, said the ambassador.