SINGAPORE: The Philippines and Singapore are doing more to enhance economic and business cooperation, said President Tony Tan Keng Yam on Thursday (Dec 15), at a state banquet hosted for his Philippine counterpart Rodrigo Duterte at the Istana.
Dr Tan highlighted efforts by International Enterprise (IE) Singapore this year in helping a number of Singapore companies from the renewable energy and consumerism sector to secure their first projects in the Philippines.
He said IE Singapore is devoting more resources next year to better serve the growing interest of Singapore companies in the Philippine market, and also encourage them to venture beyond metro Manila to cities like Davao and Cebu. This is in line with the Philippine administration's priority for "inclusive economic development".
Mr Duterte is in Singapore for a two-day visit, his first since taking office in June.
In his speech, Dr Tan said exchanges between Singapore and the Philippines have blossomed, especially after diplomatic relations were established in 1969. "Today, our two countries enjoy a robust friendship anchored in a shared vision of peace, harmony and prosperity for our countries and the region," he said.
Singapore is the Philippines’ fourth-largest trading partner and Dr Tan said the strong economic ties are complemented by warm people-to-people relations. "Each year, Singapore welcomes about 700,000 visitors from the Philippines, who enjoy visiting Universal Studios and Gardens by the Bay, as well as eating satay, chilli crab and chicken rice."
The links extend to culture as well, with many Filipino artworks displayed in the Singapore Art Museum and the National Gallery, showcasing Philippine talent.
"With better connectivity between the Philippines and Singapore, and to regions beyond, people-to-people exchanges can continue to grow," said Dr Tan. "This way, fellow Singaporeans will be able to see what my wife and I saw during my state visit to the Philippines in 2014: A fellow Southeast Asian nation that is resilient, hardy and talented."
He also wished the Philippines success as chair of ASEAN in 2017, and assured Mr Duterte of Singapore's support.
On Friday, Mr Duterte will be hosted to lunch by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. He will also meet Singapore business leaders, have an orchid named in his honour and meet the Filipino community before departing for the Philippines.