India is the flavour of the season in Singapore. The government of Singapore expects trade with India to surge after August 1 when the double avoidance tax treaty between the two countries comes into effect as per the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement signed by the two countries.
According to Lim Hng Kiang, Singapore's minister for trade and industry, investors considered the opportunities in India to be very attractive and expected to follow up on the successes reported by early investors in Indian sectors like IT-related infrastructure and telecommunications.
"Singapore wants to be to India what Hong Kong is to China," Balaji Sadasivan, Singapore's senior minister of information, communications and the arts, told reporters earlier in the day.
To push trade, trade bodies and think tanks in Singapore have embarked on a series of seminars to highlight opportunities in India, the first of which was held here today and inaugurated by Kiang.
"Singapore is not worried about political developments in India -- the pace of reforms does see ups and downs everywhere but the secular direction of change is enough for mature investors who are looking for a longer term relationship," Kiang said.
Singapore-based companies were advised to boost their investments in India, which was described by Kiang as a country in which "major economies like USA, Japan, and China were also interested" because of India's vast market potential.
Singapore companies should therefore move immediately to team up with each another as well as with foreign firms to enter India.The trade between India and Singapore was about $12 billion at present against Singapore's $54 billion-plus trade with China, but trade with India was growing fastest.