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Singapore welcomes Chinese companies
By Zhang Jin (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-10-18 08:51

Officials in this city state are rolling out the red carpet for Chinese enterprises, saying their nation offers a good springboard for their bids to become players on the global market.

"We welcome more Chinese companies to invest in Singapore," said Aylwin Tan, an official of Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), a governmental investment promotion body that largely focuses on the manufacturing and service sectors.

"Chinese companies have already established a good presence in Singapore in the past years, particularly after last June when the regional economy recovered from the impact of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome)," said Tan.

The Singaporean Government recently introduced a swathe of preferential policies and the country's export-oriented economy will attract a growing number of Chinese firms who are eager to enhance their profile in the global marketplace, said Tan.

Singapore's corporate tax rate was cut to 20 per cent in March, offering foreign investors a bigger advantage to run a business.

But what seems more attractive to Chinese companies is what is called "pioneer status", a tax-free or tax-cutting treatment given to foreign investors by the Singaporean Government that runs at most 15 years.

The status will only be granted to companies which have projects that greatly assist the development of the local economy, said Tan.

No Chinese companies have so far obtained the status.

More importantly, Singapore is an ideal springboard for Chinese firms to sell their products to the rest of the world.

"Singapore is a good place to introduce Chinese products to the Southeast Asian market and other parts of the world," said Tan, believing Singapore's favourable location and free-trade links with many countries will be helpful.

Singapore can also help Chinese firms in research and development, particularly in such areas as electronics and traditional Chinese medicine, according to Ang Kian Heng, another EDB official in charge of Chinese and Indian businesses.

Leong Keng Thai, deputy chief executive of the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) echoed Tan's views. IDA is the watchdogs of Singapore's information technology industry.

"It is good for Chinese IT companies to invest in Singapore," said Leong. "Their products can be shipped globally from here."

He added that the Chinese companies that have already invested in Singapore such as Huaqi Information & Digital Technology Co are performing well.

"Huaqi's MP3 players are selling well here with their low prices and high quality," he said.

EDB's statistics show that a total of 1,277 Chinese companies have invested in Singapore up to June. The accumulated investment has reached US$98 million by the end of 2003.

China is now Singapore's seventh largest foreign investor.

Chinese companies are also being encouraged to list on Singapore's stock exchange, which has a relatively large pool of international capital and comparably low listing requirements.

"Medium-sized Chinese firms can easily get listed here compared with Hong Kong and some other international bourses, as the Singapore Exchange (SGX) is comparably small," said Ang Swee Tian, SGX president.

At present, 52 Chinese companies have gone public in Singapore, with 20 of them joining the bourse this year.

EDB, IDA and SGX all vowed to strengthen exchanges between the two countries' business communities, overcoming the biggest obstacle that prevents Chinese firms from heading to Singapore.

"The problem is that many Chinese firms don't know much about the Singaporean market and find difficulty in find local partners," said Tan. "We are going to improve the situation in the coming years."

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