SINGAPORE: The Netherlands and Singapore reaffirmed their ties on Thursday (Nov 24), as Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte made an official trip to the city-state for the first time since taking office in 2010.
Mr Rutte received an official welcome at the Istana, where he called on President Tony Tan Keng Yam. The leaders reaffirmed the "excellent ties" between Singapore and the Netherlands, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a media statement.
Earlier in the morning, the Dutch Prime Minister visited the Botanic Gardens, where he had an orchid named after him.
Mr Rutte also met with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who hosted him to lunch.
Mr Lee and Mr Rutte discussed international developments and their countries' strong partnership in areas like water management and cyber security.
With the countries being big investors in each other's economies, Mr Lee thanked the Netherlands for its support for the free trade agreement between the European Union and Singapore.
"We hope we can do more together because we have similar outlooks. We are both tolerant and egalitarian societies. Our people are open and direct. We share similar outward-looking perspectives. We want to promote freer trade and international cooperation. At a time when many countries are turning inwards seeking to repudiate globalisation and shut off the world, we believe that staying open and ahead of changes is the right strategy," said PM Lee.
Mr Rutte said: "The economy of the future will be more circular than ever before, and this will again create new opportunities for innovation, research and development for our companies. Much of this, we can do together. We are keen to continue and deepen our partnership on a win-win basis in order to come up with fresh solutions to the new global challenges facing us."
Mr Rutte will return to the Netherlands on Friday morning.
The Netherlands was Singapore's third-largest trading partner in the European Union in 2015, after Germany and France, with bilateral trade in that year amounting to S$14.2 billion.
The Netherlands is also Singapore's largest investor from Europe and its fifth largest investor globally.
More than 1,300 Dutch companies are based in Singapore.