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Singapore seen as second in region for Belt and Road opportunities: survey

VIETNAM, Singapore and Indonesia are seen as the markets in Asean and South Asia with the most opportunities related to China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), according to a survey by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and PwC Singapore.

Vietnam was named by 66 per cent of respondents as a country where their firm "primarily sees BRI opportunities", while Singapore and Indonesia were each named by 57 per cent.

The three countries also came in joint first, along with Thailand, as the survey respondents' choice of preferred government partners.

The survey was conducted by invitation only, with respondents being senior representatives of companies and organisations involved in the regional infrastructure market, in sectors including financial and professional services, oil and gas, manufacturing, and construction.

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A report on the results was released on Thursday morning at the fifth Singapore Business Regional Forum, an annual SBF flagship event.

Said SBF chairman S S Teo: "The BRI holds opportunities not just for Singapore's big corporations, but its smaller firms as well. Our companies are well-positioned to provide legal, financial and other professional services, as well as good partnership with Chinese firms.

"Through initiatives like BRI Connect and the Singapore Regional Business Forum, SBF has been helping Singapore firms connect with partners in Singapore, the region and beyond, to open doors to new opportunities," he said. "We hope more of our companies will tap these platforms and team up with larger companies, both local and foreign, when they venture overseas."

Smart cities and urban development emerged the top sector in which survey respondents saw opportunities, cited by 43 per cent. It was followed by industrial estates and special economic zones (41 per cent), as well as information and communications technology (39 per cent) and roads and ports (39 per cent).

As for risks, the top risk category was political risks, cited by 75 per cent of respondents. Second was financial risk (68 per cent) and third was governance (64 per cent).

PwC Singapore partner Jennifer Tay, who specialises in capital projects and infrastructure, noted that infrastructure development plans include considerations ranging from transportation and power to banking, housing and education. "It will also require the balancing of commercial, operational and demand risks among different infrastructure," she added.

"For example, without a strong logistics and transport backbone, industrial parks will not be able to attract investors, at the same time, investors in logistics and transport need to be able to forecast the demand for these infrastructure," Ms Tay said.