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Int'l Cooperation

Last updated: Wednesday, November 22, 2017

 

Vietnam-Singapore: Working Closely Together to Advance and Promote Open, Inclusive Regional Framework

Posted: Friday, November 03, 2017


The Singapore-Vietnam relationship has grown from strength to strength in many aspects for the past years, especially since the two countries established the Strategic Partnership in September 2013, evidenced by bilateral trade reaching S$19.8 billion and Singapore becoming the 3rd largest investor with nearly US$38 billion in cumulative stock investments in 2016. Amidst concerns about rising trade protectionism, APEC Vietnam is expected to play its leadership role in deepening regional economic integration and connectivity. With this regard, our reporter has interviewed Ms Catherine Wong Siow Ping, Singapore Ambassador to Vietnam. Thu Ha reports.

How do you evaluate the recent cooperation between Vietnam and Singapore within the framework of APEC cooperation?
Amidst concerns about a rising global tide of protectionism, Singapore was glad that Vietnam chose to focus its 2017 APEC Chairmanship on the theme of “Creating New Dynamism, Fostering a Shared Future”. As the Asia-Pacific’s premier economic forum, APEC should play a leadership role in deepening regional economic integration and connectivity. We need to generate new dynamism to boost trade and investment. At the same time, we must foster a shared future and work to distribute the benefits of trade and globalisation to all segments of society.

Singapore is committed to supporting Vietnam’s Chairmanship. Our strong bilateral ties and shared commitment to free trade have driven close cooperation on important initiatives to promote trade facilitation, improve supply chain connectivity and facilitate cross-border e-commerce. We are also working with Vietnam and other economies to shape APEC’s agenda and priorities beyond the Bogor Goals of free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region by 2020.

What do you think about the role of APEC in forming the foreign policy of Singapore?
As a small city state, Singapore is a firm proponent of multilateral trade forums and therefore participates actively in APEC. As one of APEC’s founding members, we are pleased to see it playing an essential role in fostering common interests amongst Asia-Pacific economies, creating a platform for promoting economic linkages and cooperation, and thereby strengthening regional peace and security. APEC has also been at the forefront supporting the effective functioning of a rules-based, transparent, non-discriminatory multilateral trading system as embodied in the WTO, and rolling back protectionist and trade-distorting measures. APEC’s non-trade agenda, which encompasses diverse areas such as human resource development, health and food security, also gives us a platform to exchange views and pursue forward-thinking initiatives with other APEC economies.

How do you value the impact of APEC on the economic development of Singapore at present and the future?
APEC has been and continues to be an important part of Singapore’s development story, as it has for many other APEC economies. APEC’s commitment to the Bogor Goals has over the years helped lower trade barriers across the Asia-Pacific, while APEC’s initiatives have encouraged economies to cut red tape and pursue pro-business reforms. For example, the APEC Business Travel Card makes travel in the Asia-Pacific region easier for eligible businessmen by facilitating visa-free entry and fast-track immigration clearance at major international airports. The APEC Ease of Doing Business Action Plan meanwhile has cut time and costs for companies securing goods clearance at borders. It has also made it easier for companies to expand to APEC markets. As a result, consumers enjoy a wider variety of goods and services at lower prices. It should come as no surprise then that Singapore’s top nine trading partners are all in APEC, and that trade volumes across the region are expanding steadily. In 2015, APEC economies accounted for nearly half of global trade and collectively generated nearly 60 per cent of global nominal GDP.

Going forward, Singapore anticipates APEC will continue to be an invaluable platform for advancing regional economic integration. Singapore is keen to work with other economies to achieve the eventual realisation of the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific, which embodies APEC’s vision of free and open trade and investment across the region.

Taking part in APEC 2017 in Vietnam, what is Singapore’s expectation in boosting investment cooperation with APEC members in general and with Vietnam in particular?
APEC’s record on investment cooperation is strong. For each year between 2000 and 2015, APEC economies collectively attracted an average of 46.1 per cent of global FDI. As fellow APEC members and ASEAN neighbours, Vietnam and Singapore work closely together to advance and promote an open and inclusive regional framework in the Asia-Pacific. We have also cooperated to achieve greater economic integration in Southeast Asia, including through the recently established ASEAN Economic Community.

Under the bilateral Strategic Partnership and Connectivity Framework Agreement, the Singapore-Vietnam relationship has grown from strength to strength. On the economic front, Singapore and Vietnam are close trade and investment partners. Bilateral trade has doubled over the past decade, reaching S$19.8 billion in 2016. Singapore is the 3rd largest investor in Vietnam as of end 2016, with nearly US$38 billion in cumulative stock investments. The seven Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Parks across North, Central and South Vietnam are concrete symbols of our successful long-term economic collaboration, having attracted US$9 billion of investments to Vietnam and created more than 170,000 jobs over the past two decades.

Yet, there is still a lot of potential for us to deepen investment relations. During Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s official visit to Vietnam in March 2017, he witnessed the signing of several investment-related MOUs, together with Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. Singapore companies continue to be keen on investing in Vietnam’s thriving economy, and the Vietnamese government has signalled its determination to provide a business-friendly environment to encourage more foreign investments in Vietnam.








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