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12 Jun, 2008 03:50

Singapore gives lesson on economic zones

Russia has set aside $US 1.7 billion over the next ten years to create special economic zones (SEZ). But such zones need much more than just cash to be successful. More than anything, they need know-how. Singapore has been building first-rate SEZs for dec

The idea of special economic zones began in the island city-state of Singapore almost 50 years ago.  And the idea soon became a reality. Now the once tiny fishing-village is the most business-friendly economy in the world.
Russia has chosen the Singaporean model of SEZs as a way to develop its economy. Using Singapore's expertise alongside Russia's vast natural and human resources, the government hopes to create a flourishing business environment.

“Our intention is to provide training places to help Russian officials become familiar with the concept of creating a competitive business environment in the economic zones. In this way they can attract much foreign direct investment,” said Singapore Minister of State Lee Yi Shyan.

The first zones launched across Russia have already attracted almost $US 300 million in private investment, which is to double by the year’s end. The state's ambitious goal is to attract $US 25 billion in the next ten years. For its part, the government will offer the necessary conditions for business development.
“The task of the state is to build roads, supply energy and communications, therefore providing conditions for business to construct industrial plants, labs and engineering centres. These companies earn profits and pay taxes, which makes the whole process profitable for us,” said  Andrey Alpatov, Head of the Agency for Management of SEZs.

Russia-Singapore co-operation has already achieved results – a car manufacturing plant in Tatarstan's Elabuga and an innovation centre in Tomsk. Singapore companies have not yet invested in Russian economic zones, but the country’s minister said tourism and innovation are attractive targets.