The “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) portal, which includes CrimsonLogic GeTS as one of its support agencies, aims to provide a deep understanding among Singapore enterprises of the OBOR initiative which seeks to connect Asia to Europe and East Africa. The portal, launched on March 8, 2016 by Labor Chief Chan Chun Sing, is the first website in Southeast Asia dedicated to OBOR. The “Belt and Road” term refers to the overland Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road projects initiated by China.
The portal is a joint development by Lianhe Zaobao (LHZB), the Chinese flagship newspaper of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), and the Singapore Business Federation (SBF). During the launch ceremony, Mr. Chan was joined by Mr. Chen Xiao Dong, Ambassador of People's Republic of China to Singapore; Dr Lee Boon Yang, Chairman of SPH; Mr Teo Siong Seng, Chairman of SBF; Mr Anthony Tan, Executive Vice-President of SPH's Chinese Media Group and Mr Ho Meng Kit, Chief Executive Officer of SBF.
OBOR Portal Features and Benefits
The OBOR portal offers local businesses and Chinese readers all over the world a unique Singaporean and Southeast Asian perspective on the OBOR initiative. The Chinese-language site features an overview of the OBOR strategy, in-depth interviews with key people, news and developments, business opportunities, analyses, commentaries, links to the Singapore Business Federation website and a calendar of activities for the OBOR regions. The portal is expected to boost Lianhe Zaobao’s (LHZB) position as an authoritative news provider among Chinese readers in China, Southeast Asia and the rest of the world.
Apart from educating the industry about the OBOR initiative, the portal is an effective way for businesses, officials and consumers to connect with each other and learn about available business opportunities. In particular, the OBOR portal will become an important tool for companies in Singapore to learn about new and emerging trade opportunities with China. The Singapore Business Federation encourages local businesses to visit the OBOR portal and connect with Chinese enterprises, share their experiences and expand their network.
With support from CrimsonLogic GeTS and other companies (Bank of China, China Taiping Insurance (Singapore) Pte Ltd, ICBC Singapore Branch, Pacific International Lines Pte Ltd, PSA Corporation Ltd, SingPost Limited, StarHub Ltd, Straco Corporation Ltd, Tat Hong Holdings Ltd, United Overseas Bank Limited and Yanlord Land Group Limited), trade participants in Singapore and China will benefit greatly from the OBOR website.
The OBOR portal allows trade participants to be the first to know about developments, issues and growth opportunities, such as programs to lower logistics and financing costs through the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative (CCI), a program under the OBOR strategy that will align Singapore’s strengths with China's reforms and strategies.
The OBOR portal will also update local enterprises about new prospects and infrastructure development in regions with good potential but where logistics is a concern. The overland route under the OBOR project, for example, will facilitate the movement of goods between Singapore and Central Asia.
The OBOR Initiative
The “One Belt, One Road” initiative is China’s top economic and infrastructure development strategy. Unveiled in 2013 by Chinese President Xi Jinping, OBOR aims to connect Asia to Europe and Africa via an overland belt and a maritime route. According to DBS Research, once completed, OBOR will directly affect 4.4 billion people with a collective gross domestic product (GDP) of US$2 trillion.
The OBOR imitative consists of two routes: the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. The land-based Silk Road Economic Belt links countries that were once located along the original Silk Road (including Southeast Asia and South Asia) to Europe. The road connects China to Europe through Central Asia and Russia, and the Persian Gulf through Central Asia and Southeast Asia, South Asia, and the Indian Ocean. The Maritime Silk Road uses sea routes to connect China to Europe via the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean, and the South Pacific Ocean through the South China Sea.
The OBOR project seeks to promote economic and political cooperation among the 65 countries located along the belt and road. The initiative will also help China and other countries improve policy exchange and communication. There are many other benefits to countries, regulatory agencies, businesses and consumers.
Trade and investment integration.
OBOR removes investment and trade barriers, allowing businesses along the route to explore new business opportunities and improve trade processes. To promote trade and facilitate the integration of trade and investment, negotiations on bilateral investment protection and double taxation avoidance will be scheduled.
Countries along the overland and maritime routes have the opportunity to improve their infrastructure through a network that brings together all sub-regions of Asia, Africa and Europe. To facilitate international transport, railways, highways, sea ports, airports, oil & gas pipelines, power supply and optical networks will be improved, while taking into consideration each country’s security and sovereignty concerns.
Cultural and academic exchange.
The OBOR project is expected to facilitate cultural and academic exchange among the countries along the route, which will help strengthen public support and multilateral cooperation.
Under the OBOR initiative, there are plans to build currency stability, investment, financing and credit information systems in Asia to facilitate financial cooperation. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and Silk Road Fund were established to pool capital for infrastructure lending projects and business investments, respectively. Other programs are planned to support financial integration.
Singapore and the OBOR Initiative
Singapore and China are major trading partners, with bilateral trade valued at S$121.5 billion in 2014. Singapore is also the most economically advanced country in Southeast Asia and one of the world’s leading financial centers. Singapore has long been a financial and trading center, and it is expected to benefit significantly from the OBOR initiative by allowing local enterprises to operate outside the country and take advantage of growth opportunities.
Logistics and infrastructure improvements.
The port of Singapore is among the three busiest and largest container ports in the world, with 200 shipping lines connecting the nation to ports in over 120 countries. As a major trade hub in Asia, Singapore has excellent infrastructure and extensive logistics expertise that will allow it to help neighboring countries improve their trade processes and logistics infrastructure. Singapore’s strong position and influence have pushed Chinese businesses to increase infrastructure investments in the country.
Countries will become more connected as result of the OBOR initiative. Tourist visa applications will be easier to process among countries in the belt and road, driving the increase in business and leisure travelers and boosting the local tourism sector.
More investments and professional services sector improvements.
Singapore can leverage its strong clean energy industry to attract foreign businesses and make them adopt the country as a reference market for trial products and services. Singapore’s strength in finance and governance can also help professional services firms raise debt capital and equity to facilitate investments.