Singapore Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat has suggested greater support for start-ups from India and Singapore and called for an innovation corridor between the two countries. “First, besides liking up established businesses, we can do more to support our start-ups and build an innovation corridor between Singapore and India,” said Heng after inaugurating the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) annual lecture. “We can explore more ways to connect businesses, perhaps through online and new data-driven platforms. This would give businesses an overview of the opportunities available and provide a near-instantaneous way of linking up,” he said in a keynote address at the lecture, which will be CII’s annual event here.
Addressing over 100 businessmen from the two countries as well as CII delegates, the minister also called for enhancing partnerships between entrepreneurs at different stages. Programmes such as the “India Ready Talent Programme”, involving CII and universities in Singapore are good starting points, he said. It allows students in Singapore to take advantage of CII’s network of over 8,000 members for internship opportunities in India, he pointed out. “In the long-term, we hope to create a network of innovation and collaboration. I hope CII and Singapore agencies and organisations can work closely together in this effort,” he said further.
Secondly, businesses are changing all the time. The great old houses of Indian commerce have diversified into new industries such as Fin Tech and digital solutions, he noted. The minister invited CII to connect India’s new generation of business leaders with partners from Singapore to create new opportunities for networking and fostering greater innovation. Heng said India can play a significant role in the region, covered under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which is expected to be concluded by the end of the year.
“Through agreements like CECA (Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement) and the RCEP, India can play a significant role in our region,” he said. “An economically integrated region would allow us to realise our collective growth potential,” he stressed. In 2019, India’s expected growth rate is 7.8 per cent while ASEAN is expected to see growth of 5.3 per cent.
“ASEAN and India share similar advantages, such as a relatively young population, a growing middle-class and rapid urbanisation,” he noted. “By working together, we can leverage on a common growth engine,” he said, applauding CII for its role in building business links between India and Singapore for the past 25 years. CII, which established its South East Asia Regional office in Singapore in 1994, facilitated business associations and leaders for guiding in the bridge building process. CII facilitated Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and minister Heng as well as the Indian High Commission in Singapore for 25 years of guidance in building the India-Singapore businesses network.
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