Singaporean firms are going to find newer openings in the growth of the Chinese bay areas

The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area (GBA), with its population of 70 million, will offer opportunities in sectors like healthcare, education, environmental protection and urban planning for businesses and entrepreneurs here.

Panellists at the FutureChina Global Forum at Marina Bay Sands yesterday discussed China’s plan to grow the Pearl River Delta area – spanning Hong Kong, Macau and nine Chinese cities in southern Guangdong province – into a global technology and innovation hub.

The GBA will offer advanced manufacturing and modern services industries in a bid to rival bay areas in New York, San Francisco and Tokyo.

Professor Fan Gang, director of the National Economic Research Institute in Beijing, said such clusters will be a key feature of China’s economic development, adding that China’s size will make it “quite easy” for the GBA to surpass its rivals.

The key will be the quality of its technological, social and urban development. He believes the GBA could drive innovation in China given its unique feature of having cities operating under one country and two systems, as well as having three different currencies.

Mr Na Wu Beng, chief executive of OCBC Wing Hang Bank, said development of the GBA goes beyond industrial development: “It has a very strong accent on synergy, on integration and on collaboration.”

The GBA will tap the strengths of the 11 cities to complement one another, he pointed out. Goods made in the GBA will no longer be shoes and garments but high-end tech products to be exported globally.

“Singapore is typically a hub for South-east Asia, a hub for commodities that China buys, as well as a hub for (Chinese) investments into South-east Asia,” he said. He sees opportunities for Singapore firms as the GBA develops manufacturing and services related to helping the GBA build world class cities.

Singapore can “directly contribute” in areas like waste and property management and people development. With US-China trade tensions, he also sees Chinese manufacturers setting up production bases outside China to avoid extra tariffs. “That’s where South-east Asia and Singapore will benefit,” he added.