Another S'pore in Indian hub?

Another S'pore in Indian hub?

INDIA - India wants to see another Singapore take shape in the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), the country's most ambitious infrastructure project.

"Instead of talking in general terms about investment in the corridor, I think we really have to look at a creative model of how some portion can be a dedicated Singapore corridor," India's foreign minister Salman Khurshid said.

"They can bring in institutions and develop the best infrastructure for having their own investment, manufacturing and services, as well as invite other people who are interested. So I am really looking for something like another Singapore, a virtual Singapore, being developed."

The DMIC is a US$90 billion (S$114 billion) project with technical aid from Japan. Covering 1,500 km, it spans six states and is conceived as a global manufacturing and trading hub. One part of the corridor that might suit Singapore, he said, would be around the western city of Pune.

In 2005, India and Singapore signed the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (Ceca), the most ambitious free trade pact signed by New Delhi. Ceca is now under review for an update and while there are broad areas of convergence, the issue of Qualifying Full Banking licences for Indian lenders remains a sticking point, he said.

"The requirement for foreign banks in terms of deposit ratios is much greater than it is for Singapore's own banks. That makes it an unequal and uneven playing field."

He said India will see if this is something that works against India specifically or all foreign banks. "I think there needs to be a political call on this and I am sure that our two PMs will make that call."

Describing bilateral ties as "wonderful", he said India was planning a whole host of cultural activities starting next year that would dovetail with Singapore's celebration of 50 years of independence, in 2015.

These would be "our contribution and celebration of our relationship of 50 years", he said.

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