Singaporean PM’s visit expected to strengthen strategic partnership

Sunday, 2017-03-19 14:22:22
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Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong (Source: AP)
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NDO/VNA—The upcoming visit of the Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, will be a chance for Vietnam and Singapore to discuss strategic plans and specific measures to deepen their strategic partnership.

Vietnam and Singapore established diplomatic ties on August 1, 1973, and bilateral ties have been thriving especially since Vietnam became a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1995.

The two countries signed a Joint Declaration on a Framework for Comprehensive Cooperation in the 21st Century in 2004, creating a legal foundation on which and optimal conditions in which to promote their all-round friendship and cooperation.

On the occasion of PM Lee’s visit to Vietnam in September 2013 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties, both sides issued a Joint Statement on the Establishment of their strategic partnership.

Over the years, the Vietnam-Singapore strategic partnership has been going forward in a practical and trustworthy manner with regular exchanges of visits by delegations at all levels and extended cooperation via Party, State, National Assembly and Government channels. Bilateral links in the fields of economics, trade and investment, national defence and security, education, transport, tourism, finance and law have flourished.

Since 1996, Singapore has been one of Vietnam’s three largest partners. The island state is Vietnam’s third-largest trade partner in ASEAN and the sixth-largest in the world.

Two-way trade hit US$7.1 billion last year, with major traded products including petrol and oils, computer, electronics and spare parts and mobile phones. Additionally, Vietnam ships fishery products, coffee, pepper and vegetables to Singapore.

Singapore’s direct investment in Vietnam has kept going up since 1998, now totalling US$39 billion, making the island state the third largest investor among 101 countries and territories in Vietnam.

Singapore’s investment is mostly in real estate, the processing industry, engineering and construction, with the Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP) considered a symbol of Singapore investment efficiency.

The two countries have been holding trade ministerial–level meetings every 8 months and alternately in each country under their Framework Agreement on Vietnam-Singapore Connectivity signed on December 6, 2005 in Singapore. So far, they have convened 12 meetings, with the latest one held in Singapore last September.

The two countries’ State banks have worked closely together via regular exchanges of visits to share information and experience. Singapore actively offers technical support and personnel training to Vietnam, and wants to participate in the restructuring of Vietnam’s finance and banking sector.

Affiliations in aviation, maritime navigation and road transport also expanded, as evidenced by the launch of direct flights linking Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang and Phu Quoc with Singapore. Both sides shared their master plans on seaport development and agreed to jointly build and manage Thi Vai Seaport in the southern province of Ba Ria–Vung Tau.

In April 2007, Vietnam and Singapore signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Education Cooperation. The Singaporean government annually offers university scholarships to Vietnamese students. The two countries also signed agreements on a training programme in Singapore for mid- and high-ranking Vietnamese Party officials for 2011-2013 and a specialised training programme for high-ranking Vietnamese Party officials for 2013-2015 and 2016-2017.

In 2014, Singapore became the fifth–most popular study destination for Vietnamese students with nearly 8,500 Vietnamese students.

In the field of culture, the two nations mainly partner within the framework of the ASEAN Committee for Culture and Information (ASEAN–COCI). Singapore is a significant tourist market for Vietnam and also a popular destination for Vietnamese travellers. The Vietnam-Singapore Tourism Cooperation Joint Committee has so far convened 14 sessions, with the most recent one being held in the Central Highlands city of Da Lat in May 2016.

Last year, Vietnam welcomed 257,014 visitors from Singapore, up 8.7% year on year, while nearly 470,000 Vietnamese visited the island state, marking a 12% increase. Since 2006, bilateral tourism coordination has been added to the framework of the two economies’ connectivity.

In March 2008, the two justice ministers signed an MoU on Legal and Judicial Cooperation. Both sides worked closely together at multilateral and global forums such as ASEAN, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) and the United Nations.

Singapore is actively assisting Vietnam in preparing the agenda for the APEC 2017.

The two countries have actively cooperated, shared opinions and protected ASEAN’s common stance on strategic security in the region, including the East Sea issue.