Friday, July 9, 2010

Suzhou aspires to be the world's office

It also aims to be a hub for science, technology and innovative projects

AFTER years of being the 'world's factory', the Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP), together with Suzhou city, is now embarking on a transformation to become the 'world's office' in a bid to re-invent itself.

The goal was made known at a media briefing during which Suzhou government officials shared their plans for the city as well as the landmark Sino-Singapore project, SIP.

By 'world's office', Suzhou party secretary Jiang Hong Kun was referring to a hub for services, such as in software outsourcing, financial, logistics & exhibition and commercial tourism. There will also be a new focus on science and technology projects and innovative activities.

'Following the global financial crisis period, the world economy is undergoing major adjustments and restructuring,' said Mr Jiang, in Mandarin. 'China, which has often been deemed the world's factory, also hopes to achieve economic transformation. As for Suzhou, it has also been heavily focused on manufacturing in the past and our hope is to tap on the opportunities available to speed up the economic development and move towards more advanced manufacturing and scientific activities.'

The transformation of Suzhou and SIP will see a deepening and broadening of relationships between Singapore and China, as governments from both sides have signed a letter of intent to deepen the cooperation. Separately, cooperation for 31 projects have been inked. Among the Singapore organisations involved are the National University of Singapore, which will be setting up an incubator office at the SIP, the Singapore Exchange, and the Singapore Nanotech Association. Altogether, the 31 projects would lead to total investments exceeding US$1.6 billion.

Currently, about 60 new jobs have been created by 44 Chinese and foreign companies in SIP. They include positions in electronics, precision engineering, education, finance and biomedical sectors.

At a symposium attended by the private sector, Suzhou mayor Yan Li also highlighted the nanotechnology and environment sectors among the emerging industries that his city is promoting. Minister of State for Trade & Industry Lee Yi Shyan suggested that both sides also encourage the exchange of talent to facilitate cross-learning. Started in 1994, the SIP has become a benchmark for other industrial parks in China and an expression of the strong Sino-Singapore ties built over 20 years. Beyond the SIP, Suzhou itself is Singapore's leading trading partner in China's Jiangsu region.

The SIP is managed by the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park Development Co (CSSD), which is preparing for a listing within the next one to two years. Officials said the option is still open as to whether the listing site will be in Singapore or China.

Source: Business Times, 9 Jul 2010

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