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  • SBF and FICCI establishes the Singapore-India CEOs Forum as a high-level bilateral consultation platform

SBF and FICCI establishes the Singapore-India CEOs Forum as a high-level bilateral consultation platform

  • SBF and India’s premier business chamber, FICCI, have formed the Singapore India CEOs Forum (SICF) to broaden strategic cooperation between the two organisations
  • SICF hopes deepens and strengthens partnerships in eight priority sectors – Infrastructure, Renewable Energy, Advance Manufacturing, Education and Skills, Fintech, IT & ITES, Healthcare and Life-sciences and Defence and Space
  • SICF will promote business collaborations and recommend solutions to overcome barriers to business with the goal to double bilateral investments to USD250 billion in five years

19 November 2018 [Singapore] -
Singapore-India business relations were further elevated when the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) hosted a delegation from The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), for the inaugural Singapore India CEOs Forum (SICF) at SBF Center last Wednesday, 14 November 2018.

Co-chaired by Mr Gautam Banerjee, chairman of SBF’s South-Asia Business Group and Mr Harshavardhan Neotia, past president of the FICCI, the forum was well-attended by 15 and 10 business leaders from Singapore and India respectively. 

Collectively, they represent diverse interests in various business sectors ranging from aviation, banking and finance, energy and engineering to infrastructure, information and communication technology (ICT), manufacturing, education to professional services.

Leading Singapore companies represented in the forum include Ascendas–SingBridge, Blackstone, Crimson Logic, Meinhardt Group, Sembcorp Industries Ltd, Singapore Airlines and Singtel Group, while India’s business community was represented by top corporations such as Adani Group, Ambuja Neotia Group, Bharti Enterprises and Edelweiss Group. The full list can be found in Annex A.

SICF will serve as a high-level bilateral consultation platform that brings together top business leaders from Singapore and India to explore ways to strengthen commercial ties and overcome business barriers between the two countries. The SCIF will issue joint recommendations to the Indian and Singapore governments.  

At last week’s meeting, co-chairs Mr Banerjee and Mr Neotia signed a “Joint Intention Document” with a goal to help double bilateral investments to USD250 billion over the next five years.

Business leaders from Singapore also made two key recommendations to the Indian government. The first includes the reduction of the withholding tax rate under the Singapore-India Tax Treaty, from the current 15% to 10% (which is in line with other countries) or even 7.5% given the strategic relationship between Singapore and India. The other involves the removal of salary requirements that cannot be justified from a market perspective for Singaporeans to obtain visas into India.

Key recommendations of Indian business leaders to the Singapore government include a proposal for India to collaborate with Singapore on applying artificial intelligence to domains like smart cities, 5G, electronics manufacturing, infrastructure, and prevailing social issues in health and education. Additionally, both parties can explore emerging technologies and disciplines like blockchain, machine learning and smart manufacturing to promote bilateral trade and investments between India and Singapore.

One area where both countries could benefit from closer cooperation is mobile payments. Mr Arthur Lang, CEO International of Singtel shared the company intends to collaborate with Bharti Airtel – a leading global telecommunications company headquartered in New Delhi, India – to expand VIA, its regional cross-border mobile payment alliance. VIA is envisaged to eventually connect all mobile wallets in Asia with those in India.

Mr Lang said, “VIA will promote more cross-border transactions, and promote financial inclusion, and thereby support the Indian government’s ‘Digital India’ vision.”

The SICF delegation also called on Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies, and Mr Shri Suresh Prabhu, India’s Hon’ble Minister of Commerce and Industry where The co-chairs presented the joint report and briefed the ministers on the forum meeting.

Mr Banerjee said, “Singapore companies have long recognised opportunities in India, which is one of the largest economies in Asia. While sectors such as aviation, information technology, real estate, manufacturing, construction, renewable energy, pharmaceuticals and telecommunications have progressively attracted capital, we hope to leverage SICF to take bilateral investments a step further.”

Held annually, the second SICF is expected to take place in India next year.

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