Singapore’s links with key regional markets position it as a valuable partner for India.
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Singapore well-placed as India’s gateway to East Asia
Singapore’s strategic location and connectivity to key regional markets such as China, Australia and Vietnam makes it a gateway for India as well as a valuable partner.
“Singapore is well-placed within the region. We can be India’s springboard to East Asia and beyond,” said Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, speaking at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas conference yesterday.
Singapore and India have a long-standing relationship and SM Goh was credited with being a visionary for recognising India’s untapped potential as far back as 1992, when he first officially engaged India.
Talks with country leaders such as then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao and then finance minister Manmohan Singh showed SM Goh that there was ‘indication of change from the very top, he said.
Later, the liberalisation of India’s economy and its integration with the international system was complemented by Mr Rao’s ‘Look East’ policy.
One of the earliest significant economic projects between India and a foreign country post-economic liberalisation was the Singapore-built Bangalore IT Park.
Since then, India has seen tremendous growth. For the last four years, India has averaged about 9 per cent growth, and it currently accounts for 6.5 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP).
However, SM Goh was mindful that India still had hurdles to cross if it wanted to sustain its rapid rate of development. “One key challenge is its agricultural and rural sectors. Close to two-thirds of its people are engaged in subsistence rather than commercial agriculture. The second area for improvement is in education. The growing labour force would only be an asset if substantial investment in education and skills development is made. The third is infrastructure,” Mr Goh said, adding that the financial sector also needed to undergo reforms – such as further liberalisation of the banking and insurance sectors – to keep up with economic developments.