Mr Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Road Transport and Highways & Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Government of India stated that the Government was setting up 22 Green Express Highways at a cost of Rs. 10 lakh crores across the country. He invited Singaporean companies to invest in these highways and also look at setting up logistics and industrial parks around them. The Minister was speaking at the Singapore Symposium 2019 – India and Singapore: Partners in a Connected World which was organized by Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS), National University of Singapore in cooperation with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Ananta Aspen Centre in New Delhi today.
Mr Gadkari stated that the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) had an AAA rating and Singaporean Companies could seek to form Joint Ventures with it for road development. He stated that his Ministry was also seeking to develop inland waterways as a major mode of transportation of goods. Already inland waterways are being used to transport goods from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh to Haldia in West Bengal. The idea was to extend this waterway to Myanmar via the Brahmaputra river.
Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Communications and Information & Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations, Republic of Singapore highlighted the need to focus on digital connectivity to strengthen the bilateral relationship. In particular, he mentioned that digital infrastructure could be used to improve trade facilitation by connecting the Single Window clearance for trade documentation of both countries.
He also stated that the two countries could work together in the area of Fintech. He pointed out that the Indian IMPS system could be linked to Singapore’s FAST to facilitate instant transfer of funds. Another area where he felt that the two countries could work together on was the area of Artificial Intelligence.
On the bilateral front, Mr Iswaran highlighted that the relations between the two countries were growing steadily. Trade between the two countries had doubled and many Singaporean companies had made significant investments in India.
Speaking about the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, Mr Iswaran was of the view that the agreement was becoming even more important now given the backdrop of rising anti-globalisation tendencies in the world. He called for like-minded countries like India and Singapore to come together and ensure the agreement is finalized.
The session was moderated by Mr Tarun Das, Chairman, Institute of Economic Growth.
June 20, 2019