India seeks Singapore investments in infrastructure projects

India on Saturday sought investments from Singapore in its infrastructure and connectivity projects along the ambitious Delhi-Mumbai and Chennai-Bangalore industrial corridors as well as in the north-eastern region.

Kicking off an year-long celebration to mark 50th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic ties jointly with her Singaporean counterpart K. Shanmugam, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said the occasion will be used to advance economic engagement, defence and security cooperation between the two countries. 

Noting that Singapore is not only India’s largest trading partner in Asean, but also one of the largest source of foreign investment globally, Swaraj said the two countries can achieve anything if they open their imagination.

On his part, Shanmugam appreciated role of India which was one of the first countries to diplomatically recognize Singapore. He also observed the significant contribution made by the Indian diaspora in Singapore’s economy and culture.

Seeking enhanced investment from Singapore, Swaraj said both the countries should also look at scope of venture capital for innovations and for cooperative projects in third countries. “We look forward to Singapore companies to speed up connectivity and infrastructure projects in India, particularly, along the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), the Chennai-Bangalore Industrial Corridor and the North-East. Singapore could develop a virtual city or a ‘little Singapore’ somewhere along the corridor,” she said.

Swaraj also asked Singapore to provide its expertise in development of smart cities in India even as the two countries decided to step up economic engagement besides defence and security cooperation. The concept of “smart cities” as satellite towns of larger ones was enunciated in last month’s budget by the new NDA government which has allocated a sum of Rs.7,060 crore for the ambitious plan. “Singapore’s expertise in smart cities, urban planning and water management strategies offer a valuable learning experience for India. We shall work for setting up greenfield smart cities and for urban rejuvenation. Our experts shall identify the priorities and we shall coordinate its timely delivery,” Swaraj said before leaving for New Delhi. 

The two countries also decided to scale up ties in key areas of investment and trade which has witnessed a huge surge from $4.2 billion to about $19.4 billion in the last one decade. Swaraj and Shanmugam held extensive talks on bilateral relations and discussed ways to speed up air and maritime connectivity and coastal development. The two leaders agreed to work towards a bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong at the earliest possible opportunity.

The two leaders hoped that negotiations for the second review of Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement would be completed expeditiously to give further fillip to economic ties. Apart from discussions on strengthening trade and connectivity ties, the two leader directed their officials to identify concrete projects in skills development, capacity building, rejuvenation of Indian cities and to enhance cultural ties.

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