SINGAPORE: Singapore and the United States share a strong and mature bilateral relationship, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Friday (Nov 16), adding that he is confident the relationship will “continue to strengthen at all levels”.
Speaking at a joint press conference with US Vice President Mike Pence at the Istana, Mr Lee reaffirmed the “robust and enduring partnership” between both countries, describing the relationship as “deep and wide”, with close cooperation in many areas like economic, defence and security.
For instance, both countries cooperate closely in areas like transnational security, terrorism and cybersecurity. Singapore also provides support for the US’ military presence and defence engagements in the region.
Economically, Mr Lee noted that Singapore’s investments in the US and US exports to Singapore support more than a quarter of a million American jobs. The US is also Singapore’s largest foreign investor, with many American companies choosing to base their Asian headquarters in Singapore.
“Even Shake Shack is opening its first burger outlet in Singapore very soon,” he quipped, to chuckles from the audience. “Which is the most important investment of all.”
But Mr Lee asserted that there are still many other ways to collaborate, including in areas like energy, advanced manufacturing and technology.
Both countries renewed an agreement to collaborate on infrastructure, and announced their collaboration on a technical assistance programme to conduct cybersecurity training workshops for ASEAN member states.
Both leaders also welcomed the signing of a Tax Information Exchange Agreement, which will permit Singapore and the US to exchange relevant tax information to enforce its respective tax laws, and a reciprocal Inter-Governmental Agreement, which will provide for the automatic exchange of information with respect to financial accounts under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.
Mr Pence was on an official visit to Singapore in conjunction with the 33rd ASEAN Summit. During his visit, he participated in the 6th US-ASEAN Summit, as well as the 13th East Asia Summit.
On Friday morning, he received an official welcome ceremony at the Istana.
Mr Pence and his wife, Mrs Karen Pence, then attended a ceremony where a new orchid hybrid, called the Papilionanda Mike and Karen Pence, was named in their honour.
SINGAPORE IS AN INSPIRATION: MIKE PENCE
Speaking at the joint press conference, Mr Pence thanked Mr Lee for the hospitality, and described Singapore as an “inspiration” to the world.
“It is really remarkable to think of Singapore’s success in only 53 short years,” he said, adding that Singapore has reached “towering heights”.
“Here, two great oceans meet, and here, like nowhere else on Earth can be found such variety, such contrast, such success and such prosperity,” he said. “In such a small place, it is truly an inspiration to the world.”
“Singapore shines brightly and the United States is proud to call Singapore a strategic partner and friend.”
Mr Pence added that the US’ partnership with Singapore is “emblematic” of the bonds forged over the generations, and of the bonds the US is forging now across the Indo-Pacific region.
“We are proud to stand together to advance our shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” he said.
“The US seeks an Indo-Pacific where every nation is free to follow their own path, pursue its own interest, where the seas and skies are open to all engaged in a peaceful activity and where sovereign nations grow stronger together,” he added. “Our vision excludes no nation, requiring only that every nation treat their neighbours with respect.”
“Singapore and the United States stand together, and we stand strong,” he said. “We will continue to protect the freedom of the seas and skies across the Indo-Pacific together.”
Mr Pence also encouraged ASEAN to continue to move forward with a meaningful and binding code of conduct for the South China Sea, and stressed the importance of achieving a “final and fully verified” denuclearisation of North Korea.