The Allure of Chongqing | China-Singapore

Some 100,000 people gather on the pedestrian street around the Chongqing People’s Liberation Monument to welcome the year 2018 on December 31, 2017.

The Joint Implementation Committee of the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity (CCI) held its 4th meeting in Chongqing, the only municipality directly under the central government in China’s western region, on January 8. Five iconic projects earned approval from both sides: the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor (ILSTC), China-Singapore (Chongqing) dedicated data channels for the internet, a China-Singapore fintech cooperation demonstration zone, a China-Singapore aviation industrial park and the China (Chongqing)-Singapore Connectivity Initiative Financial Summit.

Agreements on at least nine other projects were signed on site, covering fields of finance, logistics, information, healthcare and development of city industry integration.

The ILSTC has reached a new phase of development. The influence of CCI has been constantly expanding and its attractiveness has increased steadily, which has created a mutually beneficial situation for businesses from China and Singapore.

New Channels for Cross-border Financing

Sasseur (Chongqing) Western Outlets (Chongqing Outlets), near the expressway to Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport, was brimming with customers just before the Chinese New Year. Chongqing Outlets offers not only international brands such as Prada, Gucci, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana and Pierre Cardin, but also domestic household-names including Li-Ning and Moiselle.

In recent years, Chongqing Outlets has won popularity and recognition from customers by selling a wide variety of goods at favorable prices, enabling it to grow fast. During this period of rapid expansion, Chongqing Outlets encountered a capital bottleneck in which its debt financing could not meet its funding demands because its investment in infrastructure was relatively large.

Sasseur Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) was founded to solve the financing problem. It is the first outlet mall REIT in Asia and serves as a representative project under the framework of CCI. As the first outlet mall REIT project in central and western China to be publicly listed on Singapore Exchange Securities Trading Limited, Sasseur REIT achieved a breakthrough in the field of finance of CCI.

Sasseur REIT has opened new channels for cross-border equity financing for private enterprises and is playing a demonstrative role for private companies in central and western China seeking to raise funds in the international market.

“Our sales performance exceeded expectation during celebrations for Chongqing Outlets’ 10th anniversary,” reported Yang Dongsheng, chief financial officer of Sasseur Group. “More importantly, Sasseur REIT Chongqing has performed well with occupancy rate of nearly 95 percent and expected annualized returns of 7.6 percent.” Yang is confident that this year’s target will be met.

“Singapore is an international financial center,” declared Han Baochang, director general of China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity Administration Bureau (CCIB). “How to leverage this advantage of Singapore to open wider financing channels and reduce financing costs for companies operating in Chongqing and other Chinese western regions is the central aim of cooperation between Chongqing and Singapore in the financial services sector.”

More and more projects have been implemented with further deepening of cooperation between China and Singapore. By the end of 2018, a combined 77 various crossborder financing projects under the framework of CCI were put into practice, and financing reached US$5.52 billion. Through adopting and promoting the cross-border financing model of CCI, it helped companies in central, western and southern China realize overseas financing of nearly US$3 billion. These enterprises are from Sichuan, Shaanxi and Qinghai provinces and Xinjiang Uygur and Guangxi Zhuang autonomous regions.

Furthermore, China and Singapore jointly established Sino-Singapore Connectivity Private Equity Fund Management Co., Ltd. to invest in fields of logistics, big data and new energy, with 7.76 billion yuan (US$1.15 billion) in assets under management.

Chongqing Municipal People’s Government and Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) have reached an agreement to explore organization of a China-Singapore fintech cooperation demonstration zone.

A light-rail train passes urban Chongqing.

Nine Trips to Chongqing in a Year

Shaohuan Li, a young Singaporean, arrived in Chongqing again on January 7.

Starting in January 2018, he visited Chongqing nine times in a single year. Before that, however, everything he knew about the city was learned from books, movies and TV shows.

Shaohuan Li made the trip so many times for business talks. After he graduated from National University of Singapore, Li and a few likeminded friends jointly established Fooyo Pte Ltd., a tech company based in Singapore. Fooyo focuses on providing intelligent tourism solutions for tourist cities and largescale scenic spots. Its clients include Sentosa and tourist attractions in the United States and Japan.

In January 2018 after a CCIB introduction, Li came to Hongyadong (a tourist attraction in Chongqing) seeking potential business. “In May 2018, the number of tourists visiting Hongyadong surged dramatically, and it soon became a popular tourist attraction globally, which piqued our attention,” Li revealed. A cooperation agreement was quickly reached between Fooyo and Chongqing, and Fooyo created a real-time data platform for Hongyadong. The real-time data platform went live on June 18, 2018 to coincide with the Dragon Boat Festival (5th day of the 5th month on the lunar calendar).

During the Smart China Expo in August 2018, “AI Chongqing”, an application for mobile phones jointly developed by Fooyo and Chongqing Tourism Investment Group Co., Ltd., also officially went live.

“So far, ‘AI Chongqing’ covers 159 tourist attractions across Chongqing and offers a time-share reservation platform for Hongyan Alliance (Chongqing Hongyan Revolution History Museum),” reported Shaohuan Li. “Next, we plan to cooperate with scenic spots such as Liangjiang Movie City and Ciqikou Old Town and conduct tourism cooperation throughout Yuzhong District.” The purpose of his trip to Chongqing this time was to further expand cooperation.

Shaohuan Li joked that he used to avoid spicy food, but now he loves hot pot in Chongqing. “During a recent trip to talk to Chongqing Locajoy (a theme park), the hot pot I ate was unforgettable,” Li added.

Alongside Fooyo, many start-up technology companies in Singapore have also benefited from CCI. Singaporean companies including Y3 Technologies Pte Ltd., Fresh Turf Pte Ltd. and veriTAG Pte Ltd. have conducted cooperation with enterprises in Chongqing.

Chongqing offers great potential for Singapore start-ups, and CCI has built a bridge for their development in Chongqing, enabling Singapore to share its experience in smart cities and smart tourism with Chongqing.

According to CCIB, the pilot project to build smart cities in China and Singapore has already achieved early promising results. A proposal to build smart Yuelai New City in Liangjiang New Area of Chongqing was completed, a realtime tourist monitoring system in Hongyadong, Yuzhong District began operation, an intelligent animal husbandry project based on the big data of the Internet of Things in Rongchang District was launched, Chongqing-Singapore cooperation in intelligent big data was deepened and innovation centers for small and medium-sized tech companies under the framework of CCI were launched in Chonqing and Singapore, creating an innovation incubation platform for small and medium-sized tech companies on both sides to thrive.

We should anticipate further cooperation in fields of aviation, finance, logistics, communications, healthcare, education and tourism to be conducted between China and ASEAN in the near future.

Copyedited by Tian Yuerong

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