Business rivalry 'spurs S'pore, HK to success'

While there is plenty of traditional rivalry, smaller firms from Hong Kong and Singapore can collaborate and capitalise on opportunities in the fast-growing region.

Their strengths as highly developed trading centres make them ideally placed to access the rapidly growing ASEAN and Chinese markets. Those were the key messages to emerge from a lunch held here yesterday attended by leaders in the private and public sectors of both cities.

Mrs Carrie Lam, chief secretary for administration of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, said the rivalry between Singapore and Hong Kong was actually a benefit as it pushed both towards greater achievements.

"The best competition, to be sure, inspires co-operation. And Hong Kong and Singapore have long been steadfast business partners," she added.

Mrs Lam cited various programmes in which both territories could work together, such as the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank.

She also said that Hong Kong, despite being above Singapore in several international economic rankings, could still learn from the way the ASEAN country tackles common problems such as limited land and a shrinking workforce.

Mr Teo Ser Luck, Singapore's Minister of State for Trade and Industry, noted the close trade partnerships between the two cities, and added that there was much scope for collaboration for both to develop each other's small and medium-sized enterprises.

However, he had a different take on the traditional rivalry: "Our competition is not between these two cities, it's really what is beyond these two. There are many out there who want a piece of our pie and our market, and that's exactly why close partnership has to be driven by the business sectors coming together."

Mr Teo said Hong Kong companies had approached him last year when he was in the city in the midst of the Occupy Movement that paralysed much of the downtown area.

They asked him about setting up businesses in Singapore, but he told them that Hong Kong could not be weakened by their moves.

"Only when Hong Kong succeeds will ASEAN and Singapore also succeed. We have to succeed together. It can never be one or the other," he said.

This article was first published on July 25, 2015.
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