MOSCOW: On the second day of his work visit to Russia, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Singapore and the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC), in a move aimed at bolstering economic ties and closer collaboration in areas such as customs administration and information technology.
Also present on Wednesday (May 18) was former Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan, who is Chairman of the Commission.
PM Lee Hsien Loong meets with EEC chairman Tigran Sargsyan. (Photo: Olivia Siong)
The EEC is the executive regulatory body of the Eurasian Economic Union, which comprises Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
Mr Lee called the agreement a positive and concrete step towards deepening and widening engagement.
The agreement was signed by Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon and Minister in Charge of the Development of Integration and Macroeconomics of the EEC, Tatyana Valovaya.
During the meeting, both sides discussed how relations have been growing over the last decade, but also acknowledged the untapped potential that exists.
Mr Lee said the MOU will now allow officials and business communities to become more familiar with each other.
“I am sure this more intense interaction will enable us to identify new trade and investment opportunities in the Eurasian Union markets that Singapore companies can take advantage of, and conversely, we will also identify new opportunities for companies from the Eurasian Union to use Singapore to invest in and also to be a gateway to Asia,” PM Lee said.
“Singapore is a major transport, logistics, financial hub and it has one of the most extensive network of trade agreements in Asia. We hope to be a useful partner for the Eurasian Union for your companies’ and your entities to engage Asia,” he added.
The Commission's Chairman added that the agreement is a new page in Singapore-Eurasia relations.
“Together with the Prime Minister of Singapore, we have recognised the interest of the Eurasian Economic Union and Singapore in deepening and expanding our trade and economic relations. To implement this interest, we will come up with a working group that will develop the proposals of two parties – for the main areas of deepening our relations,” said Mr Sargsyan.
Singapore leaders met with members of the EEC on Wednesday (May 18). (Photo: Olivia Siong)
Mr Lee also said he hopes both sides will work towards starting negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement between Singapore and the Eurasian Economic Union – noting that economic cooperation will benefit greatly from it, by reducing obstacles to trade and establishing a conducive environment for business and bilateral cooperation.
Mr Lee added he is confident that the work will further strengthen trade and investment ties.
For Singapore, the Eurasian Economic Union presents a combined market of 180 million people and a total GDP of S$6 trillion.
Singapore and Russia had agreed during a meeting in November last year that officials will start the process to negotiate a FTA.
“Global economic growth is expected to slow down this year. However, there remain opportunities for growth, particularly in overseas markets, which our businesses can tap on,” said Dr Koh.
"These are not just the traditional and more established markets which our companies are already familiar with, but less explored markets in regions such as the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and Central Asia.”