Infrastructure on Singapore’s radar

08:00 | 09/08/2018
For many years, Singapore and Vietnam have been boosting their successful co-operation. Singaporean Ambassador to Vietnam Catherine Wong Siow Ping spoke to VIR’s Thanh Tung about Singapore’s great support for Vietnam’s infrastructure development and how companies from both nations can benefit from regional trade deals.  

In April 2018, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc visited Singapore, which committed to supporting Vietnam in developing smart cities. How has this commitment been implemented so far?

infrastructure on singapores radar

Singapore is keen to support Vietnam’s goal of having at least three smart cities by 2020. Under our ASEAN chairmanship this year, Singapore proposed the formation of an ASEAN Smart Cities Network (ASCN). This platform will facilitate co-operation on smart city development, share best practices, and explore common technological solutions.

In May, Singapore’s Centre for Liveable Cities and Ministry of Foreign Affairs organised the ASEAN Smart Cities Governance workshop for 75 delegates from 25 ASEAN cities, including 14 representatives from the Vietnamese government and Vietnam’s ASCN cities of Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Danang.

The four-day workshop included site visits and panel sessions with industry experts, think tanks, and private consultants to share ideas and global best practices for smart cities. The delegates also started developing their respective action plans to implement smart cities in the workshop.

ASCN members gathered again in Singapore in July 2018 during the World Cities Summit for the inaugural ASCN meeting. Vietnam was represented by 14 official representatives from the central government as well as its nominated ASCN cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

The meeting endorsed the ASCN Framework, which sets out ASEAN’s definition of a smart city, and finalised the city-specific smart city action plans for the 26 pilot ASCN cities.

In line with the objectives of the ASCN, Enterprise Singapore has led business missions comprised of Singaporean companies such as ST Engineering, Ademco Security Group, V3 Smart Technologies, and Nexwave Technologies to explore smart city opportunities and pilot projects with the people’s committees in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi this year. Currently, our companies are in discussions with key Vietnamese players to identify suitable smart city projects for implementation in Vietnam. Potential areas of collaboration include intelligent transport systems, smart street lighting, public security, and smart utilities.

Singapore will also support Vietnam in constructing seaports and developing logistics services and high-tech agriculture. How has this been going?

Singapore is interested in investing in seaports and logistics infrastructure in Vietnam, for example warehouses and cold chain facilities, as Vietnam has a long coastline and a growing export-oriented manufacturing sector that is boosted by the strong influx of foreign direct investment (FDI) over the past few years. Our companies will continue to monitor new developments and favourable investment regulations that allow for foreign investment in these projects in Vietnam.

The agricultural sector in Vietnam has plenty of room for adopting agri-tech solutions, because the majority of farms are still using manual production processes that are not optimised for productivity. Singaporean companies can provide technological solutions such as smart monitoring, tracking and traceability of farm-to-fork produce, and automation to help increase the overall yields and quality of their agricultural produce. With higher productivity and quality of the produce, Vietnamese companies would also be able to export to other markets such as China and countries in Southeast Asia.

With the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and the upcoming establishment of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Vietnam and Singapore are expected to have a larger playing field for both nations’ investors. What opportunities can Singaporean investors seize from the CPTPP?

Singapore ratified the CPTPP on July 20, becoming the third nation to do so after Mexico and Japan. The CPTPP countries represent a large market for Singaporean businesses, being a market of 500 million people with a combined GDP of $10 trillion, accounting for approximately 13.5 per cent of the global economy. In 2017, the CPTPP countries accounted for 22.2 per cent of Singapore’s total goods trade, which amounted to S$214 billion ($156.22 billion).

The CPTPP is an important agreement that will complement Singapore’s and Vietnam’s existing network of bilateral free trade agreements. It will strengthen trade among countries in the Asia-Pacific region, resulting in a more seamless flow of goods, services, and investment. Against the current backdrop of trade tensions and anti-globalisation sentiments, the CPTPP sends a strong signal of our commitment to trade liberalisation and a rules-based trading system. We look forward to a further expansion of trade between our two countries.

What opportunities will Vietnam get in exporting its goods to Singapore thanks to the CPTPP?

Both Vietnam and Singapore are already part of the AEC and have existing bilateral free trade agreements with other countries. With the CPTPP, Vietnam will enjoy savings and benefits from lower trade and investment barriers.

Singapore will continue to increase its bilateral trade with and investment into Vietnam due to its strong investment policies and conducive business operating environment. The influx of additional FDI as a result of the CPTPP would also create more jobs for the Vietnamese people.

Currently, Singapore is boosting its co-operation with Vietnam in education and training by providing scholarships for Vietnamese students. How will this type of co-operation develop in the near future? Will Singapore continue supporting Vietnam in English-language training and vocational training?

As Asian countries, Singapore and Vietnam share a common desire to provide the best education for future generations. The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on education co-operation in April 2007 to enhance school linkages, promote joint student activities, encourage information exchange, and increase co-operation between higher education and research institutes. One area that Singaporean companies are hoping to venture into is to provide vocational training to upgrade the skill sets of workers in Vietnam, especially in the areas of textile, hospitality, manufacturing, and retail services. Singapore’s educational companies are also keen to enter Vietnam to provide language and other related training.

In addition, since 1992, Singapore has provided training for over 18,000 Vietnamese officials under the Singapore Co-operation Programme. Moving forward, Singapore hopes to continue to deepen our existing collaboration with Vietnam so as to strengthen the friendship between our countries. In fact, as part of Singapore’s initiatives under our ASEAN chairmanship this year, we are working with Vietnam to upgrade the Vietnam-Singapore Training Centre to a Vietnam-Singapore Co-operation Centre, which will expand our modalities of capacity building beyond classroom-based courses so as to meet Vietnam’s evolving development priorities.

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