Singapore and Shenzhen sign four MoUs

  • October 25, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

Four more memorandums of understanding (MoUs) have been signed between the cities of Singapore and Shenzhen in China covering areas such as e-invoicing, IoT and blockchain.

Singapore’s Ministry of Communications & Information (MCI) and Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) announced the four new MoUs at a recent meeting and also that the first phases of projects from the Singapore-China (Shenzhen) Smart City Initiative (SCI) have been completed early.

Helmed by MCI permanent secretary Yong Ying-I, and Shenzhen mayor Qin Weizhong, the Second Joint Implementation Committee (JIC) meeting reaffirmed Singapore and Shenzhen’s commitment to develop digital connectivity and test policy innovations to promote the digital economy and create opportunities for businesses in both cities.

Forging ahead with more digital economy collaborations, Singapore and Shenzhen signed the four MoUs to increase collaborations for digital trade and to enable digital transformations. These collaborations in areas such as e-invoicing, IoT and blockchain aim to promote more efficient and trusted cross-border digital connectivity, which should strengthen business links between the people and businesses of Singapore and Shenzhen.

“The SCI established in 2019 is growing from strength to strength,” said Yong. “Both cities will work closely together on new digital cooperation projects and policy sandboxes to create economic opportunities for our people and businesses. Today, the signing of four more MoUs reaffirms our commitment to continue building a bridge of digital connectivity between Singapore and Shenzhen. The SCI serves as a reference for wider digital and smart city cooperation in the Greater Bay Area and south-east Asia.”

In the next phase of the SCI, businesses are harnessing the value of digital technologies to bring benefits to the economy. The NCS Next Shenzhen Innovation Centre project sees the creation of three business partnerships with technology companies in China, inking three MoUs in areas of: IoT and blockchain platform; robotics development; and digital-twin-enabled projects.

These MoUs will facilitate collaboration that will develop products to support the digitalisation of businesses and industries in both cities, including the building of a trusted platform to develop use-cases in manufacturing, trade financing and smart agriculture. NCS Group and its Chinese partners will also be building a joint lab to design smart agriculture robots and products.

Additionally, DataPost – a member of the Adera group of companies – and Kingdee E-Invoice Technology in Shenzhen have signed a pilot B2B MoU to process electronic invoices for international trade through the Pan-European Public Procurement On-Line (Peppol) electronic invoicing framework. Adopting a common framework will allow businesses in both cities to transact seamlessly, enhancing efficiency and facilitating faster processing times and payments to save costs.

Peppol is an international and standards-based open framework for e-invoicing. It will lay a foundation for interoperability between businesses in Shenzhen and Singapore as more businesses come onboard and cross-border transactions increase.

Businesses between Singapore and Shenzhen can also soon enjoy cross-border trade financing transactions as the SCI continues to deepen technological cooperation and test policy innovations between both cities.

Enabled by IMDA’s TradeTrust digital utility, banks, shipping lines, buyers, sellers, platform service providers and fintech companies have collaborated on technical trials on trade financing using simulated electronic bills of lading (eBLs).

United Overseas Bank (UOB), together with its Shenzhen branch in China, and its clients have concluded two digital trade financing technical trials. DBS Singapore, DBS China and a client have also conducted a third successful technical trial. Other banks including the Singapore and Shenzhen branches of the Bank of China, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China and MUFG Bank will also be launching trade financing pilots in the coming months. After the successful technical trials, the banks intend for commercial transactions to follow.

The three trials demonstrated how key maritime trade documents such as the eBL could be used across different trade financing platforms and jurisdictions. With the digitalisation of the paper-based bill of lading, shipping and finance industries along with businesses in Shenzhen and Singapore should enjoy faster transactions as there will no longer be a need to transport or manage hardcopy trade documents physically, producing cost and time savings and lower fraud risks through the use of digital verification systems.

Businesses in Singapore and China may seize opportunities in the digital economy. As at June 2021, the OneSME platform has onboarded 13 partners, 118 Singapore SME suppliers and 163 Chinese enterprise buyers, including Shenzhen SMEs. The OneSME hub was launched last year to facilitate access to a large ecosystem of buyers, sellers, logistics service providers, and financing and digital service providers. This will help businesses scale up and expand into new markets, as the platform connects B2B platforms in the two countries.

As part of innovation and entrepreneurship promotion, the Global Innovation Alliance (GIA) node in Shenzhen was launched in partnership with Chinese accelerator XNode in December 2020. The inaugural batch of ten companies embarked on the virtual GIA Shenzhen Acceleration Programme, participating in workshops and engaging in business matching activities. The second batch of the programme has also started on a rolling basis, with eight companies participating in the acceleration programme activities, building an ecosystem of technology start-ups and SMEs across both cities.