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Chan Chun Sing: Singapore should have more business partnerships with Africa

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At the Africa Singapore Business Forum on August 28, Tuesday, Chan Chun Sing, Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry urged African businesses to set up a base in the country, as a partner in Southeast Asia and even beyond.

He also expressed the desire for more air carriers from Africa to fly to Singapore, since this would make more business connections easier to accomplish.

The Trade and Industry Minister was the keynote speaker at the Africa Singapore Business Forum, which meets every two years. Around 600 delegates attended this year’s forum.

Mr. Chan said that while some developed countries are taking a less central role in the global economy, Southeast Asia and Africa should be working together for the purpose of economic integration. 

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“We hear of tariffs, trade tensions between major players and protectionism on a regular basis. We are already seeing the real effects of such actions and rhetoric on the commercial decisions of many companies. Against this backdrop, it is important that we continue to believe in, and promote and support, economic integration and cooperation, with a strong conviction that open economies, connected economies, inter-dependent economies, ultimately bring better jobs and better income for our people.”

Since the third Singapore-Sub-Saharan Africa High-Level Ministerial Exchange Visit under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is currently ongoing, Mr. Chan also emphasized that governments should continue to strengthen partnerships and build new channels that support “business-to-business interactions.”

This definitely includes more agreements with African air carriers. At the moment only Air Mauritius and Ethiopian Airlines are plying a route to Singapore, and Mr. Chan said that he was urging other carriers to join them.

Several business agreements were solidified and signed at the form, which was organized by Enterprise Singapore, a government agency. Png Cheong Boom, the CEO of Enterprise Singapore, says that these agreements will give rise to even more partnerships between companies in Singapore and Africa.

As Mr. Png gave the opening remarks, he talked about “tremendous opportunities in Africa, particularly in the area of consumer products, manufacturing, digital economy and infrastructure development.”

There are over 60 Singaporean business currently operational in Africa, in over 40 countries and across a variety of industries.  Since 2016,  Enterprise Singapore has facilitated around 50 projects for Singaporean businesses in Africa, the majority of which involve SMEs.

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