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Business council, innovation corridor to help Singapore firms enter Andhra Pradesh

ENTERING the fast-growing Indian state of Andhra Pradesh will now be easier for Singapore firms, with the establishment of a new business council and an innovation corridor for urban solutions.

Initiated by International Enterprise (IE) Singapore, both moves were announced on Monday at the 24th Partnership Summit in Andhra Pradesh, India's flagship event for its global integration strategy.

Comprising company representatives from both markets, the Andhra Pradesh-Singapore Business Council will drive private sector partnerships in priority sectors such as smart infrastructure, agrifood and logistics.

It will do so through identifying common projects, conducting business matching, and holding regular missions and events.

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The Business Council will be led by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). Both parties signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the Business Council on Monday, witnessed by Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S Iswaran and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu.

Andhra Pradesh is one of India's fastest-growing states, with state gross domestic product growth of 11.6 per cent in 2016, above the national average of 7.1 per cent. It consistently ranks among the top Indian states in which to do business.

Also announced on Monday was a new Innovation Corridor. This will provide a platform for Singapore firms to pilot and scale up innovative urban solutions in Amaravati, Andhra Pradesh's capital city, with the aim of expanding across India and abroad.

Singapore companies can develop and pitch solutions based on challenges identified by Amaravati. Selected solutions will be piloted in the city.

The first cycle will take place during the Happy Cities Summit in Andhra Pradesh in April 2018 and the World Cities Summit in Singapore in July 2018.

The Innovation Corridor arises from the partnership of Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Amaravati Partnership Office and the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority.

Both moves follow an MOU signed last year for greater economic collaboration between Singapore and Andhra Pradesh.

IE Singapore assistant chief executive officer Tan Soon Kim said in a statement: "The Andhra Pradesh-Singapore Business Council will promote regular interaction and business collaboration between the private sectors of Andhra Pradesh and Singapore, while the Innovation Corridor will provide more direct access for Singapore's innovative urban solutions to be implemented in Amaravati.

"IE Singapore will continue to work closely with SBF and our in-market partners to help Singapore companies understand the market landscape and capture diverse opportunities in Andhra Pradesh."

In conjunction with the 24th Partnership Summit, SBF led a five-day trip to Andhra Pradesh to explore business partnerships across Amaravati, Vishakhapatnam and Vijayawada, for a 15-member delegation with representatives from sectors such as infrastructure, engineering, construction, professional services and shipping.

Noting that this was SBF's second visit to Andhra Pradesh in six months, SBF chief executive officer and mission leader Ho Meng Kit said that the trip was meant to explore priority sectors such as ports and logistics, agribusiness, and building and construction.

"We have engaged the council and secretariat of our fellow trade associations and chambers on Singapore's involvement in Andhra Pradesh over the past months. SBF will be working closely with them moving forward, to further structure and translate these opportunities to the wider Singapore business community," he said, adding that other key sectors include technology, food manufacturing and processing, and tourism and hospitality.