Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife are paying an official visit to Vietnam from March 21-24 at the invitation of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. This is an important political event aiming to continue accelerating the strategic partnership between Vietnam and Singapore in an extensive and substantive fashion, particularly in the five pillar fields, thereby bringing about practical benefits for the two countries’ peoples and suiting the new international situation.
Singapore is situated at the southern tip of the Malaysia Peninsula and measures 692.7 square kilometres, consisting of one big island and 63 small islands and possessing a population of 5.47 million. Since becoming an independent nation in 1965, Singapore has written glorious pages in the annals of history with a lot of spectacular miracles, turning a land with almost no natural resources and basic infrastructure into a leading country in the region and one of the production and finance centres of the world. The domestic political and security situation has been stabilised.
In recent years, Singapore has attained a number of significant achievements, especially in the fields of economics, science, technical matters, training and human resources management, becoming an economic, financial, scientific and technological centre of the region and a “green and clean” country with an increasing position in the Asia-Pacific. Singapore has reached US$395 billion in annual gross domestic product (GDP) and an average income per capita of nearly US$50,000 in 2015. The country is taking the lead in shifting to the knowledge-based economy and developing the island country into a world-leading city and a hub of the new network in the global economy with a diverse economy in 2018. With regards to foreign affairs, Singapore prioritises building a peaceful and stable environment in Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific, balances relations with powers and is willing to cooperate with all countries for the common benefit.
The comprehensive friendly and cooperative relations between Vietnam and Singapore are unceasingly expanding and seeing fine growth. In September 2013, on the occasion of PM Lee’s visit to Vietnam and the 40th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties, the two sides issued a joint statement on the establishment of the Vietnam-Singapore strategic partnership with the aim of continuously developing the relationship between the two countries in an extensive, sustainable and long-term manner. Since then, bilateral ties have been accelerated across the five pillars of cooperation, including politics; economics; security/defence; education, law and health; and culture, arts and sports; as well as on the regional and international forums. The two countries’ leaders have regularly exchanged high-level visits and meetings aiming to consolidate mutual trust.
Over the years, Singapore has always been Vietnam’s leading economic, trade and investment partner. Singapore has remained one of Vietnam’s largest trade partners since 1996, with two-way trade climbing rapidly to US$9.2 billion in 2015 and US$7.1 billion in 2016. Direct investment from Singapore into Vietnam has risen constantly since 1998. The country is currently the third-largest foreign investor in Vietnam with a total investment capital of US$39 billion. Singapore’s investment projects in Vietnam have worked effectively, with the seven Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Parks (VSIPs) being a vivid symbol for the efficiency of bilateral cooperation over the past 11 years. The two countries continue implementing the Framework Agreement on Vietnam-Singapore Connectivity, which was signed in December 2005, across the six fields of cooperation, namely finance, investment, trade and services, transportation, post and telecommunications and information technology, and education. Moreover, both sides have also paid attention to expanding relations in an array of fields, bringing about positive developments.
Vietnam and Singapore have been working closely with each other at international and multilateral forums such as ASEAN, APEC, ASEM and the United Nations. Singapore is actively backing and supporting Vietnam to help it complete its important duty as the host country of the APEC Year 2017. Concerning strategic security issues in the region, including the East Sea issue, the two countries have cooperated actively, shared viewpoints and safeguarded ASEAN’s common stance.
During PM Lee’s four-day stay in Vietnam, the two sides will discuss strategic plans and specific measures aiming to deepen the bilateral strategic partnership in the time ahead, to catch up with the current rapid changes of the fourth industrial revolution, to support each other for sustainable and prosperous development and to accelerate bilateral cooperation on multilateral forums.
Along with a number of documents to be signed, the outcomes of the Vietnam visit made by PM Lee Hsien Loong will contribute significantly to strengthening trust between the two countries’ senior leaders and creating a driving force for new developments in Vietnam-Singapore strategic partnership, for the benefits of their respective peoples as well as for peace, stability, cooperation and development in the Asia-Pacific region and around the world.