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Singapore to use F1 to develop motor racing industry

Singapore aims to cash in on holding a Formula One race from next year by developing a motorsport industry in the city state.

The government will seek proposals from the private sector in May next year to build a permanent race track in Changi, eastern Singapore, the Singapore Sports Council said in a statement late on Friday.

"The government has identified the motorsport industry as a growth industry that will contribute to sports development and the economy in Singapore," said Vivian Balakrishnan, minister for community development, youth and sports, in the statement. The racetrack is expected to be completed by early 2011.

Singapore got the green light this week from Formula One's governing body to hold the sport's first-ever night race.

Balakrishnan said motorsport was a high-value industry and that premier automobile manufacturers and suppliers already have operations in Singapore.

"Motorsport development is expected to lead to the birth and growth of direct and indirect motor sport businesses in sectors like services, engineering, logistics, training and education," he said.

Singapore's manufacturing industry has waned as firms move to lower cost centres, leading the government to try to develop the services industry and sectors such as biomedical research and tourism. The country's tourism sector is set to grow with the building of two multi-billion dollar casinos, both due to open their doors by 2010. Singapore wants to earn S$30 billion in tourism receipts and attract 17 million visitors each year by 2015.

It has agreed to a five-year deal in May for the grand prix, which is scheduled to start Sept. 28 next year on public roads around the downtown Marina Bay area, making it Formula One's first street race in Asia.

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