SINGAPORE: President Tony Tan will make state visits to the Poland and the Czech Republic from May 21 to 27, showcasing growing ties between Singapore and the two countries.
This will be the first state visit by a Singapore Head of State to Poland and the second to the Czech Republic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Saturday (May 20).
The visits will complete President Tan's tour of the Visegrád Four (V4), the four key economies in Central and Eastern Europe - Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia. He made state visits to Hungary and the Slovakia in 2013.
President Tan will visit Warsaw, Poland from May 21 to 23. He will receive a ceremonial welcome and be hosted to a State Dinner by President Andrzej Duda.
Both Presidents will jointly open the Poland-Singapore Business Forum, organised by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and Polish Investment and Trade Agency. President Tan will also host a reception with the overseas Singaporean community in Warsaw.
On May 23, President Tan will travel to the Czech Republic, where he will visit Prague and Cesky Krumlov. There, he will receive a ceremonial welcome and be hosted to a state lunch by President Milos Zeman. President Tan will also be receiving a symbolic key to the city.
A total of six Memoranda of Understanding will be signed during President Tan's trip, to enhance collaboration in business and education between Singapore and both countries.
In 2016, Singapore's bilateral trade with Poland was S$962.1 million, while bilateral trade with the Czech Republic was S$851.5 million. Poland and Czech Republic are Singapore's 14th and 16th largest EU trading partners respectively.
Meanwhile, there are 66 Polish companies and 47 Czech Republic companies operating in Singapore.
President Tan will be accompanied by Mrs Mary Tan, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S Iswaran, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, Second Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs Josephine Teo, as well as two Members of Parliament, Mr Henry Kwek and Ms Sun Xueling.
During President Tan's absence, Mr J Y Pillay, Chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers, will exercise the functions of the office of the President from May 20 to 28.
A business delegation co-led by International Enterprise (IE) Singapore and SBF representing more than 20 companies will also visit Poland and Czech Republic in conjunction with the state visits.
IE Singapore and SBF said in a joint statement that they will sign MOUs with the Polish Investment and Trade Agency, the Czech Trade Promotion Agency, and the Confederation of Czech Industries to help more Singapore companies expand overseas and look at manufacturing and technology partnerships with Poland and Czech Republic.
The MOUs will facilitate specific collaboration in manufacturing, transport and logistics and infocomm technology (ICT).
IE Singapore's Assistant CEO, Yew Sung Pei, cited opportunities for technology collaboration between Singapore and Central Eastern Europe manufacturers.
Growth in Central Eastern Europe is predicted to average 3.2 per cent in 2017 and 3 per cent in 2018, and Mr Yew said Singapore companies can leverage on a position in Poland and Czech Republic to serve the wider market of 500 million customers.
Singapore Business Federation CEO Ho Meng Kit noted similarities between both Czech Republic and Poland and Singapore in their aims to adopt innovation to propel their economies further.
Mr Ho said there are opportunities for stronger collaboration between the Singapore and Polish business communities in the areas of advanced manufacturing, fintech, info communications, medtech, high tech agriculture and food security.