HANOI: Singapore and Vietnam ramped up their business ties, signing off on a string of new collaborations in banking, power generation and infrastructure on the third day of an official visit by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
At a joint news conference with Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Thursday (Mar 23), Mr Lee said economic ties are strong and the two countries are taking their strategic partnership forward.
Both sides have agreed to further discuss liberalising bilateral air services to boost connectivity, Mr Lee told reporters. "Our flights in both directions are full, and I think if we can have more flights, we'd be able to have more connectivity, more economic opportunities and more investments and trade,” he said.
“The general agreement is to comprehensively promote the strategic partnership between Vietnam and Singapore in all areas, to promote the connectivity of our economies in trade, investment, transport, education and training,” said Prime Minister Phuc.
The two leaders witnessed the signing of five cooperation agreements on Thursday morning, including one between Sembcorp and provincial authorities to explore a new Vietnam-Singapore industrial park (VSIP) in the Central Vietnamese province, Quang Tri. If realised, the project will be the the eighth VSIP.
Sembcorp signed two other MOUs - one exploring a software park in Danang and the other on a gas-fired power project, the Dung Quat II - with Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade.
A fourth MOU was signed between Singapore developer Keppel Land and the State Capital Investment Corporation (SCIC), Vietnam’s state-owned capital manager.
The fifth agreement was signed by the Singapore International Foundation (SIF) and the Vietnam-Singapore Friendship Association (VSFA) to promote people-to-people and cultural exchanges.
Mr Lee also announced the Vietnam central bank’s in-principle green light for Singapore bank UOB to set up a foreign-owned subsidiary bank in the country by June. This will allow the bank to expand its branch network in the emerging market.
After South Korea and Japan, Singapore is Vietnam’s third largest foreign investor, with registered cumulative investments worth nearly US$38 billion at the end of 2016.
The two ASEAN member states raised ties to a strategic partnership in 2013.