Indian media reported that Singapore High Commissioner to India, Simon Wong flew from Delhi to Chennai for a series of meetings with Tamil Nadu officials including the state’s chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami on Wed (Oct 21).
Speaking to the media, Wong said that despite the restrictions during COVID-19, Singapore investments are still going to India. “In the last one year, between August of last year (2019) to August of this year (2020), we have about close to US$2 billion worth of investments (going to India),” he said.
Wong also told the media that the state government of Tamil Nadu is “very serious” about working with foreign investors, and Singapore is “happy” to be a part of it. He said, “I think the Chief Minister is looking at a forward-looking plan to transform the economy of [the regions] surrounding Chennai and, of course, Tamil Nadu. Singapore wants to be part of this process.”
Of the close to US$2 billion going to India in the past 1 year, Singapore companies invested close to US$500 million in Tamil Nadu alone, Wong revealed. He added that between 2018 and now, Singapore companies had in fact, invested about $1 billion in Tamil Nadu.
Wong opined that Tamil Nadu, in general, is a go-to destination for Singapore’s investments. “That is also the main reason why, despite COVID, we are making a trip from Delhi to Chennai. This is my first stop. And I feel that we need to, despite the health risks, we want to signal to the Tamil Nadu government that we take our partners very, very seriously. And we will also want to signal to our Singaporean investments that this is the preferred State to put their money in,” he added.
Travel Bubble with India
The Indian government has also recently made a proposal to the Singapore government to establish a travel bubble with Singapore.
Travel bubbles are essentially an exclusive partnership between countries to re-establish travel connections between them by opening up borders and allowing people to travel freely within the zone without having the need to undergo on-arrival quarantine. Also, those looking into entering the travel bubble from the outside must present an official document stating they have not been infected with coronavirus and have not come into contact with anyone who has.
Wong told the media that in fact, the relevant agencies in Singapore will be reaching out to the Indian authorities for discussions regarding the travel bubble proposal from the Indian government. “India is an important partner for Singapore and the strong air connectivity between our countries prior to the pandemic had been critical to driving the flow of trade and investment, and people-to-people exchanges,” Wong added.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Singapore, it has been noted that travellers from India form the majority in terms of the number of imported COVID-19 cases to Singapore.
Wong also took the opportunity to thank the Indian government for its support in helping repatriate around 400 Singapore citizens on two flights during the pandemic. He said around 50-60 Singaporeans are still in India as they feel safe here and want to continue their work in India. The number of Singaporeans working in India, is of course, minuscule in comparison with the number of Indian nationals working in Singapore.