- By GA WEB TEAM / In Archives / May 18, 2017.
SPEECH BY MR S ISWARAN,MINISTER OF STATE FOR TRADE AND INDUSTRY, AT GLOBAL ENTREPOLIS SINGAPORE 2006 GLOBAL INDIAN BUSINESS SUMMIT'S OPENING SESSION, 30 OCTOBER 2006, 9.00 AM AT SUNTEC CITY INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION & EXHIBITION CENTRE
Mr Saroj Kumar Poddar
President, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) India
Dr V.P. Nair,
President, Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) Singapore
Mr Inderjit Singh,
President, The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) Singapore
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. I am pleased to be here today at this hallmark event that brings together Indian business leaders from all over the world.
2. Today, the Indian diaspora comprises over 20 million Indians who make a significant contribution to the global economy. Many play leading roles in diverse business sectors, from Information Technology to financial services, from manufacturing to retail.
3. The Global Indian Business Summit provides an invaluable opportunity for this breadth and depth of Indian talent to come together to interact, exchange ideas, forge new relationships and seek out new business opportunities.
Singapore - a hub in the Indian diaspora
4. Singapore has deep and strong historical and cultural ties with India. 8% of the resident population in Singapore is of Indian origin. Many of our forefathers came from India and, through their enterprise, have contributed immensely to the economic growth of Singapore. They have played an important role in creating the vibrant and cosmopolitan country that Singapore is today. And the Indian cultural imprint on Singapore’s social landscape is self-evident.
5. Consequently, Singapore is a significant hub in the Indian diaspora and many successful Indian entrepreneurs have used, and continue to use, Singapore as their base for regional and global ventures. They range from more traditional sectors like retail where we have examples like Mustafa - a 24/7 shopper’s paradise offering a wide range of value-for-money products – to fast growing IT companies like eSys – which in six years has become a US$2 billion transnational company with more than 100 offices in 35 countries.
6. One thing that entrepreneurs like Mr Mustaq Ahmad (of Mustafa) and Mr Vikas Goel (of eSys), and many others like them, have in common is their grit and determination to compete and grow their businesses to where they are today. Another commonality is their confidence in Singapore’s competitive, reliable, pro-business environment to serve as a launch pad for their entrepreneurial aspirations.
Singapore’s open-door policy
7. The Singapore Government has always adopted an open-door policy to welcome to our shores global talent with ability and drive, initiative and ideas.
8. Indians are no exception and many have been working in Singapore for years. The elite Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) and Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) have active alumni in Singapore with around 600 IIM and 700 IIT alumni members. In fact, I understand that, the IIM Alumni in Singapore is the largest in any city outside India. They hold critical positions in different fields including IT, finance, biotechnology and IP management. Many have chosen to take up Permanent Residence or Singapore citizenship.
9. To cater to the needs of the growing Indian expatriate community here, leading Indian schools have also established a strong presence in Singapore. Delhi Public School has a campus here and the Global Indian International School has two. Both offer Kindergarten to Grade 12 education. At the tertiary level, leading business school S.P Jain has also opened a campus here to offer their MBA programme.
Singapore- India bilateral relations
10. The strength and growth of such cross-border business and people links, is a reflection of similar trajectories in the broader bilateral political and economic ties between India and Singapore. In particular, the signing of the Comprehensive Economic Co-operation Agreement (CECA) last year laid the foundation for stronger economic partnership by enhancing bilateral flows of trade, investments, ideas and people.
11. We are now beginning to see the fruits of the CECA. India-Singapore bilateral trade has grown to record levels. Last year, it reached S$16.6 billion, increasing by over 40% from 2004. Investments from Singapore have also increased. According to foreign direct investment figures compiled by the Indian government, Singapore was the third largest foreign investor in India last year, investing over US$321 million.
Singapore as Gateway to Asia-Pacific Region for Indian Companies
12. Singapore’s business friendly policies – (The World Competitiveness Scoreboard ranks Singapore as the world’s third most competitive economy and the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook for 2005 ranked Singapore as the least restrictive country in Asia for immigration laws for the import of foreign talent) – and our extensive connectivity to the region, provide a conducive environment for international enterprises to set up operations here to cover the regional markets. In particular, Singapore is a natural gateway to the Asia-Pacific Region for Indian companies, with our strong economic and political ties, cultural proximity and people-to-people links,
13. Indeed, many Indian companies already use Singapore as a springboard to the region. Today we have almost 2000 Indian companies based in Singapore and many have their regional HQs in Singapore.
14. The top 20 IT NASSCOM companies have established their presence here and many are growing successfully. Tech Mahindra, the 8th largest Indian IT services company, has announced its plans to increase its employee pool here. Its headcount will grow from around 170 to 300 within the next 18 months, with Singapore serving as its regional HQ.
15. Satyam Computer Services has its Asian headquarters here in Singapore, as well as its global business continuity and disaster recovery centre. Last month, they launched their business intelligence, analytics and mobile applications global innovation hubs in Singapore.
16. Apart from IT companies, many logistics firms are managing their regional businesses from Singapore. For example, Gati is an integrated logistics provider that has located its Asia-Pacific headquarters here. Singapore’s connectivity has enabled Gati to take full advantage of the booming trade between India and other parts of Asia.
17. Indian companies also carry out R&D and manufacturing operations in Singapore. Godrej has a manufacturing plant in Singapore for producing steel office furniture for domestic and export markets. Bahar Industries opened its first overseas production and R&D centre in Singapore last month, becoming the first Indian company to invest in Singapore's fragrances sector.
18. Indian companies are also beginning to acquire interests in Singaporean companies. For example, last year, Tata Steel acquired Singapore-based NatSteel Asia to leverage on the latter’s network of steel mills in the Asia-Pacific region and expand Tata Steel’s international outreach. As businesses become increasingly globalised, we will see more of such cross-border transactions between Indian and Singaporean companies - and this is a trend to be welcomed.
Global Entrepolis @ Singapore 2006 - Conclusion
19. The recent growth in the bilateral economic partnership between India and Singapore writes a new chapter in the evolution of ties between our two countries. It is a vivid example of how Indian and Singaporean enterprises can leverage off each other’s capabilities, and that of the Indian Diaspora, to seize new opportunities and face new challenges posed by globalisation. Global Entrepolis @ Singapore 2006 is an excellent opportunity for participants to reflect on the implications of globalisation for your respective businesses. This Global Indian Business Summit is also a unique opportunity for Indian business leaders to contemplate how the diverse strengths of the Indian Diaspora can be harnessed to address new and growing business opportunities in India and the Asia-Pacific. I wish all of you a productive set of meetings and discussions. Thank you.