Singapore | Singapore will further strengthen its bilateral trade ties with India through the strategic partnership the two countries will establish during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit here next week, according to experts.
The strategic partnership means bringing the relationship between the two countries to a higher level. This is likely to be focused on economic activities, said Gopinath Pillai, Chairman of the Institute of South Asia Studies, a think-tank of the National University of Singapore.
The emphasis would be on working with India in the areas we are good at, including skill development and town planning, he said in comments on India-Singapore ties ahead of Modi’s visit from November 23.
Singapore and India have enjoyed steadfast bilateral relations for the past five decades which were further enhanced under the 2005-Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), a free-trade pact promoting economic and trade activities. Singapore is India’s second largest investor, especially in the power and port sectors.
CECA is further being reviewed and would encourage more international investments through Singapore into massive developments taking place in India. The Indian government has this month further liberalised Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in infrastructure, sending a clear signal of its economic reform programmes, Pillai added.
Depending on how the reviewed CECA is positioned, Singapore-based investors remain gung-ho on economic prospects in India and will use the treaty to venture into the Indian market, just as Indian companies and businesses are using Singapore as a springboard to spread across Asian markets, including China, he said.
The Indian leader’s visit to Singapore is also seen as timely and comes soon after one made by Chinese President Xi Jinping in early November. Singapore, as a signatory to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and as negotiator of the China-led pan-Asian Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, can help India expand into Asia, according to Girija Pande, Executive Chairman of Apex Avalon.
Pande also pointed out that, Singapore with its links to the Asian supply chain, can also play an important role in ‘Make in India’ initiative, calling on the Indian Prime Minister to push for more commercial engagement with Singapore and the wider ASEAN region.
Singapore and India have many collaborative programmes between schools and colleges. Students from Singapore often visit Indian schools to get better understanding of the Indian communities and study approaches and vice versa, he said.