LOCAL small and medium enterprises (SME) now have a new platform to enter China's Nantong market. The Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) and IE Singapore yesterday announced the formation of the Singapore-Nantong SME Collaboration Platform, which is in line with IE Singapore's direction to help local companies seek new opportunities in emerging Chinese cities.

Under the auspices of the Singapore-Jiangsu Cooperation Council and supported by IE Singapore, the SCCCI Shanghai Representative Office will run the platform.

"This platform opens up a new channel for Singapore and Nantong to deepen exchanges and collaboration between our enterprises," said Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck. "It is a good example of the partnerships between the government and our trade associations and chambers, to help SMEs internationalise."

A three-year memorandum of understanding, which was signed in Nantong yesterday, will see SCCCI and Nantong Bureau of Commerce partner each other in business missions and investment promotion seminars for SCCCI member companies. They will also exchange information and explore partnerships for investment projects in Nantong.

Nantong is a two-hour drive from Shanghai and situated where the coastline converges with many waterways. With a population close to eight million, Nantong reported that GDP growth in 2012 reached 11.8 per cent, according to the Nantong Bureau of Commerce. Shipbuilding and offshore marine industries are key drivers of Nantong's growth, with alternative energy gaining strong momentum.

In 2012, Singapore-Nantong bilateral trade increased 4.7 per cent to US$1.64 billion. As at end-2012, Singapore's cumulative actual investments in Nantong reached US$1.04 billion, spread over 276 projects.