Published Date: 15 June 2006

Congratulatory Remarks by Mr Heng Swee Keat, MD, MAS, Launch of iShares MSCI India ETF, 15 June 2006, at SGX Centre 1


Your Excellency, Mr Alok Prasad
Mr J Y Pillay, Chairman of Singapore Exchange,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon

1   I am delighted to join you at this ceremony to mark the debut of the iShares MSCI India ETF, the first Indian index-linked exchange traded fund to be launched in the world.

2   The iShares MSCI India Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) will provide retail and institutional investors the opportunity to access the Indian capital markets via an instrument traded on the SGX. Together with the Nifty futures launched by SGX last year, this ETF will add to the diversity of investment products that ride on India's growth.

3   Today's launch reflects the confluence of three factors which will continue to drive closer economic ties between India and Singapore in the coming years.

4   The first, of course, is India's Growth Story.  Real GDP growth in India has averaged close to 8% over the past three years and is forecast to grow at above 7% per annum for the next two years. Despite recent market volatilities, investors remain optimistic about the growth prospects and dynamism of Indian companies, and the vibrancy of the Indian economy in the medium and long term. 

5   Second, the launch reflects the strong connectivity between India and Singapore. Building on our long standing ties, India and Singapore have been broadening and deepening connectivity across many fronts, to promote the flow of goods, services, capital, ideas and talent. Trade between India and Singapore grew strongly in the last few years, making India our 13th largest trading partner in 2005. More than 1,000 Indian companies are now based in Singapore. Singapore's connectivity to Asia and the world makes it an ideal base for Indian companies for its regionalization drive. And many top Indian talents find Singapore an ideal place to advance their career and to raise their families.

6   Third, today's launch is made possible by the presence of a critical mass of financial institutions in Singapore, and by the innovative drive of companies such as Barclays Global Investors, Citigroup, MSCI Barra  and the Singapore Exchange. It also reflects the depth of asset management and risk management activities in Singapore. Singapore is home to one of the largest asset management communities in Asia, managing over S$600 billion of international funds. It is heartening to see Singapore's growing importance as a leading centre for product innovation and risk management.

7   I believe these 3 developments will continue to deepen economic linkages between India and Singapore.  The two governments, recognizing the value of these linkages, have last year signed the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement.  This provides a valuable framework to further deepen trade and investment ties between India and Singapore.  

8   As trade and investment linkages grow, our financial linkages will grow, both to lead, as well as to support, the growing needs of investors and corporates. I expect activities in the banking and capital markets to grow strongly in the coming years. The Monetary Authority of Singapore will work closely with financial institutions here, as well as with our counterparts - the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), to facilitate these links.

9   On that note, let me extend my heartiest congratulations to the Singapore Exchange, Barclays Global Investors, MSCI Barra and Citigroup for embarking on this venture, and in having the first Indian ETF launched in Singapore. This ground breaking project would not have taken off without your commitment. We look forward to the success of this venture, and to a continual stream of innovative investment opportunities that you can generate. 

10   Thank you.