Following is the transcript of a CNBC interview with Satvinder Singh, Assistant CEO of International Enterprise Singapore. The interview was broadcast on CNBC on 26 April 2017 during CNBC's "Hong Kong versus Singapore" theme week.
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Interviewed by Pauline Cho, Anchor, CNBC.
Pauline Cho: Now when we look at Singapore's economy it is slowing down and that has been a challenge, so how do you continue to promote Singaporean companies abroad or get business here to Singapore?
Satvinder Singh: So for us while globally the economy has been slowed down but I think what we are very lucky that in the whole entire Asia time zone, the emerging markets actually have done fairly well. The average growth of economies in emerging Asia is 6.5 percent. So therefore, our mandate as an agency to help Singapore companies to do foreign direct investments. Our focus is also kind of shifted.
The focus is today look at not just China but also just start looking at Southeast Asia. And South Asia especially places like India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh. So we are getting our companies to diversify their interests. And the good thing is that we are in the right time zone.
Pauline: Now usually when we think of Hong Kong we think of Hong Kong as the gateway to China and Singapore as the gateway to ASEAN or Southeast Asia. What would you say to that, would you add to that label?
Satvinder: I would say there is yes, there's some truth to that. I would say today in Singapore typically when a company comes to talk to us about globalization or internationalization in our region they are really not just looking at ASEAN. They're really looking at a pan-Asian strategy.
And for most companies in the world especially in international commodities, today China is important but again the pan-Asian strategy is taking prevalence. So when they talk about pan-Asia they are really also talking about the demand and consumption that's coming out in ASEAN and they are talking about the demand that's coming out from places like India and beyond; Middle East, Africa.
And that's where I find that the ecosystem in Singapore, whether you're looking at the banking finance, whether you're talking about my shipping connectivity, whether you're talking about people and talent. I think the ecosystem here is well equipped to look at, not just North Asia but the rest of Asia.
Pauline: And Satvinder, you actually envision a day where Singapore will be the number one trading hub for commodities more so than London. What will get Singapore there?
Satvinder: Well, to me, already today when we talk about physical commodities, more than 60 percent of physical trade flows of energy, agri and metals, they are flowing in Asia, in our Asian time zone. And in the next 10 years, the percentage is probably going to rise to 70 and beyond.
And when you're looking at the size of economies and the demographics: whether you're talking about China, where China would be, where India would be where large economies of Southeast Asia is going to be. My feeling is that the consumption and the production of commodities is going to congregate in the Asian time zone and therefore inevitably whatever you see that grow out of Singapore today where we are the largest trading hub in Asia for commodities.
The size of the books of players, the size of complexity of flows is going to get larger and larger. And I think today when you are a global company, whether you are partnering with multiple sovereigns or counter-parties I think Singapore is kind of the location that kind of works. Being neutral, it kind of creates that environment where global companies are comfortable to put their partnerships, put their relationships and then manage all of their risk and their consumers from one location.