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Singapore, Shandong trade surges to US$3.6b in January-September this year

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Singapore's Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Transport Chee Hong Tat said this at the 22nd Singapore-Shandong Business Council (SSBC) meeting on Friday.

TWO-WAY trade between Singapore and Shandong province in eastern China more than doubled for the first nine months of this year to US$3.6 billion, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

Singapore's Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Transport Chee Hong Tat said this at the 22nd Singapore-Shandong Business Council (SSBC) meeting on Friday, as he acknowledged the resilience of the partnership and highlighted ways for Singapore and the province to deepen cooperation.

"The partnerships we have developed through the SSBC have enabled our trade, investment and people-to-people linkages to remain resilient during the pandemic," said Mr Chee, who co-chairs the council.

"We will build on this strong foundation to further deepen, strengthen and accelerate our collaborations, and create more growth opportunities for our businesses."

The bilateral trade figures, provided by the Shandong Department of Commerce, included trading activities by Singapore companies which imported from Shandong food and medical supplies such as surgical masks in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

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Mr Chee also noted in his speech that Shandong is now Singapore's fifth largest Chinese provincial destination for investment, with the Republic injecting some US$750 million in foreign direct investment into the province last year across 70 projects.

He said that Singapore and the Chinese province can deepen their cooperation in areas including trade and connectivity, sustainability and in modern services, to overcome the challenges during the pandemic and emerge stronger together after the crisis.

In terms of trade and connectivity, Mr Chee said there is opportunity for Chinese exporters to broaden the range of exported produce from Shandong to Singapore, including premium fruits and vegetables such as cherries and black garlic.

He added that Singapore is happy to work with the Shandong government to increase food trade with South-east Asia and other regions, using the city-state as a trading hub.

Also, Singapore and Shandong can strengthen their cooperation in sustainability.

"We are working with innovative Shandong companies to jointly develop sustainable solutions for a cleaner and greener future,"Mr Chee said. For example, Chinese home appliances and consumer electronics manufacturer Haier Group had participated in last year's Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology and is now partnering two Singapore engineering startups, to co-develop new technologies.

"I hope more Shandong companies can tap Singapore's innovation and technology ecosystem to look for new partners," Mr Chee said.

He added that Singapore and Shandong can accelerate partnerships, including in modern services: "Singapore's financial services companies and law firms, with their extensive networks and experience in South-east Asia, can indeed be good partners to Shandong companies looking to internationalise."

While it may be challenging for companies to enter new markets at the moment due to the pandemic, Mr Chee urged companies to look ahead.

"Companies should use this period to prepare themselves by understanding the market opportunities and finding potential partners, so that they are ready to move swiftly when the global economy recovers."

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