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Digital platform OneSME launched to promote trade between Singapore, China SMEs

LOCAL small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be able to trade more easily with businesses in China on OneSME, a cross-border digital trade platform for SMEs in Singapore and China that was launched on Monday.

OneSME will connect business-to-business (B2B) platforms in the two countries to help local SMEs expand their overseas reach and tap significant demand from Chinese SMEs for Singapore products.

Developed and operated by OneConnect Financial Technology (Singapore) and supported by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), OneSME was launched by Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information and National Development.

OneConnect is the fintech associate of China's Ping An Group.

Chinese SMEs are keen to purchase B2B products from Singapore, according to a survey conducted in July with more than 2,100 Chinese SMEs on OneConnect's YiQiYe SME platform. It found that 93 per cent of respondents who are in charge of procurement intend to purchase from outside China. Of these respondents looking to buy from overseas suppliers, 85 per cent ranked Singapore their top overseas procurement choice.

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OneSME will serve as a digital hub to provide connectivity, secure transactions and an ecosystem of services for SMEs in both countries. Its focus on platform-to-platform connection will help ensure that trade is conducted between trusted communities that are owned, qualified and nurtured within each country, said Tan Bin Ru, chief executive officer for South-east Asia at OneConnect Financial Technology.

To start, OneSME is connecting Singapore SMEs on local B2B procurement platform Eezee.sg to a buyer base of four million SMEs on OneConnect YiQiYe.

The platform's five main functions are to help SMEs trade across borders, expand, learn new skills, access financing and digitalise their businesses. The first three functions are already available, while the "finance" function will be available in Q4 this year and the "digitalise" function in the next phase of the project.

The platform's financial services partner is United Overseas Bank, which will provide banking and digital solutions directly on the platform. Other ecosystem partners include Bizmann System, Global eTrade Services, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), IPOS International and the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry. OneSME plans to add more partners in the future, and eventually expand the platform to help SMEs in other Asian markets like the Philippines and Malaysia establish a presence in Singapore, and help local SMEs trade with their regional counterparts.

Jane Lim, assistant chief executive for sectoral transformation at IMDA, said digital platforms are important in enabling local SMEs to tap fast-growing overseas markets.

"We are glad that OneSME is partnering various platforms in Singapore and China to bring in new opportunities for our SMEs and help them learn new skills, such as digital marketing and live-streaming, to better connect with potential customers and seize opportunities for growth," she said.

OneConnect's Ms Tan said the platform will remove cross-border trading concerns while helping SMEs in Singapore and China expand their businesses and forge overseas partnerships. She added: "We are committed to continually innovate and onboard more partners to grow this platform that is made for SMEs to thrive."

OneSME is an initiative under the Singapore-China (Shenzhen) Smart City Initiative (SCI). Eight memoranda of understanding were signed at the SCI's first joint implementation committee meeting held virtually in June 2020, to enable greater ease of access to market opportunities in the Greater Bay Area and South-east Asia through digital connectivity.

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