India and Singapore vow to deepen economic ties

Indian prime minister calls for deeper economic ties during visit to Singapore

Singapore and India have called for deeper economic ties between the two countries, and indicated they move together into areas such as start-ups and innovation as well as digital connectivity.

Describing their economic partnership as "the heartbeat" of the relationship between Singapore and India, visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said last night: "The two lions (Singapore and India) should step into the future together."

The Indian leader told some 4,500 businessmen at a Singapore-India business event at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre that India has become a nation of innovation and start-ups, entrepreneurs and skilled workers, with "sweeping" digitalisation touching every aspect of life.

It was time to upgrade the Singapore-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, the first such pact that India has inked with any country, he said.

Noting the great advance in the economic partnership between the two countries, Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations S Iswaran made the call to build on the synergies and strengths, for example in the area of start-ups and innovation.

"India's start-up scene has boomed in the past decade and it is now the third largest start-up ecosystem globally," he noted.

India is projected to have 10,000 start-ups by 2020, which presents cooperation opportunities with Singapore start-ups.

The enterprise development agency, Enterprise Singapore, will soon roll out the Singapore-India Incubation Programme to help local start-ups break into the Indian market, he said.

Mr Iswaran said Singapore firms should continue supporting India's digitalisation efforts, especially in niche areas like e-payments security, smart city management and e-commerce.

The Singapore Business Federation (SBF) also signed three initiatives at the event.

Trade between Singapore and India jumped 14.6 per cent last year to $25 billion.

Singapore's investments in India increased from $22.7 billion in 2014 to $36.3 billion in 2016.

Mr Modi, who arrived yesterday at the invitation of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, toured an innovation exhibition befor the business event.

He is due to call on President Halimah Yacob and have lunch with Mr Lee today.

He will also deliver the Keynote Address at the 17th International Institute for Strategic Studies Shangri-La Dialogue today.