Singapore: Singapore and India should consider exploring the untapped potential of cooperation in naval ship building, an expert from an Indian naval think-tank said here on Friday.
There are excellent opportunities for the two countries to jointly build warships in India, given Singapore's technological and design expertise and the low production costs in India, particularly in terms of labour and raw-material, said Captain Gurpreet S Khurana, who is the executive director of the National Maritime Foundation in New Delhi.
"India has lately offered several incentives to foreign firms to undertake joint-research and co-development of defence hardware," he said.
"These include New Delhi's new 'mantra' of 'Make in India', the attendant facilitation of overseas investments, and the raising of foreign direct investment (FDI) cap on defence from 26 per cent to 49 per cent," he added.
Khurana spoke at the conference "The Merlion and the Ashoka: Singapore-India Strategic and Defence Ties", which was organised by the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies of Singapore.
He pointed out that the private sector in India was now being encouraged to participate in the defence industry, which was hitherto driven largely by state-controlled or public-sector enterprises.
He noted the strengthening defence cooperation between Singapore and India.
However, Khurana pointed out that defence-technology was conceived by the Singapore leaders as a facet of cooperation more than a decade ago during the signing of the bilateral Defence MoU in 2003.
Following that India-Singapore Defence Procurement and System Development Working Group (DPSD-WG) met in June 2007 to identify the specific areas of such cooperation, the two countries were yet to develop a functional agenda.
"This facet of Singapore-India defence cooperation must not be seen as only buyer and seller relationship; both the nations may have to move towards long term and comprehensive cooperation such as joint scientific and technological research, development and production of weapons system and even explore sale to international customers," he said.
Khurana said he was expecting to see the initiation of defence hardware co-development tie-ups between India and Japan in the near future.
"There is enormous economic potential for the Japanese to benefit from India, which is poised to spend a whopping USD 150 billion on defence hardware over the next decade, and is creating an in-house investment-friendly environment", he said.
"The only hurdle for Tokyo is the restriction posed by the post-World War II Japanese Constitution on sharing defence hardware and technology with other countries, which are likely to be overcome sooner than later." he added.