Singaporean PM’s visit expected to set future agenda for relationship with Vietnam

The visit is taking place at a 'very momentous time', as Singapore and Vietnam are celebrating the 50th anniversary of their bilateral diplomat ties and 10 years of their strategic partnership.

Viet Nam News

Viet Nam News



Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Vietnamese counterpart Phạm Minh Chính reviewed the guards of honour during the welcome ceremony for the latter on his official to Singapore in February this year. PHOTO: VNA/VIET NAM NEWS

August 28, 2023

HÀ NỘI — Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s Việt Nam visit from August 27-29 offers an occasion for leaders of the two countries to set a future agenda for the bilateral relationship, as both look towards dealing with many common challenges, according to Singaporean Ambassador to Việt Nam Jaya Ratnam.

The visit is taking place at a “very momentous time” as Singapore and Việt Nam are celebrating the 50th anniversary of their bilateral diplomatic ties and 10 years of their strategic partnership, he told the press ahead of the trip.

The upcoming trip and the official visit to Singapore by Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính in February this year form part of the activities marking the important occasion, the diplomat stressed.

The focus of the Singaporean PM’s visit will be the green and digital economic partnership launched by the two PMs in February, he said, noting that this is the way both countries would work together and support each other in dealing with common challenges.

The ambassador said the partnership covers innovation, which he called a key driver.

“Singapore and Việt Nam are among the top three countries in having the start-up scene in Southeast Asia. We are looking to see how both countries can collaborate much more closely in this area,” he further explained.

Ratnam cited the example of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the National Innovation Centre (NIC) under the Vietnamese Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) and the National University of Singapore (NUS) last July.

Under the MoU, NUS and NIC will set up working groups to strengthen collaboration in innovation and connectivity of the start-up ecosystems in the two countries in the next three years.

Other spheres include the green and digital economic partnership and renewable energy, as the two countries share the common goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

“This will take a lot of effort and massive transformation of our economies and the way we live our lives,” he noted.

The diplomat held that Singapore and Việt Nam could work together not just to develop renewable energy in Việt Nam but also to connect this to the larger ASEAN region through the ASEAN power grid.

Ratnam also spoke of sustainability as the third field in the partnership, also a key area the two countries need to work together, especially carbon credits.

In October 2022, Singapore and Việt Nam signed an MoU to collaborate on carbon credits, aligned with Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. This puts both Singapore and Việt Nam in excellent positions to capture the opportunities generated by carbon markets.

The ambassador expressed his hope that there will be several announcements on the new areas in which Singapore and Việt Nam can collaborate during the upcoming visit by his PM.

On the occasion of Việt Nam’s National Day (September 2), the ambassador extended his warmest wishes to Vietnamese leaders and people.

He described Việt Nam as a country with “strong principles” and “a great deal of responsibility”, which have helped it gain trust from other countries.

Lauding Việt Nam’s increasing role at regional and global forums, the diplomat expressed his belief that the country will take on more leadership positions in the region and the world in the coming years.

Top important partners

In an interview with Vietnam News Agency, Dr Lê Hồng Hiệp, a Senior Fellow at the Vietnam Studies Programme and the Regional Strategic and Political Studies Programme of the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, remarked that Việt Nam and Singapore are top important partners of each other in many fields from trade and investment to diplomacy, security and defence.

Hiệp said that the Việt Nam-Singapore relationship has developed quite comprehensively, covering different fields from diplomacy, security, and strategy to trade and investment. Particularly, in recent times, the two countries have also expanded cooperation to new fields, including green economy, digital economy, and innovation.

The investment ties between the two countries, especially Singapore’s investment in Việt Nam, is a bright spot in their bilateral relations.

In recent years, Singapore has recorded the largest amount of registered investment capital in Việt Nam. In the first seven months of 2023, among 94 countries and territories investing in Việt Nam, Singapore ranked first with total investment of nearly US$3.64 billion, accounting for more than 22.4 per cent of total investment capital in Việt Nam.

Besides investment poured by major Singaporean enterprises such as CapitaLand, Sembcorp, and Mapletree, Singapore has also acted as a gateway to bring international capital into Việt Nam. Many multinational companies invest in Việt Nam through legal entities established in Singapore.

Singapore is also a gateway for many Vietnamese businesses to call for capital from foreign investors, or to reach out to the international market, typically in the case of electric vehicle manufacturer VinFast.

He recommended the two sides should continue to promote cooperation in traditional fields such as infrastructure development, education and training, trade, and investment. On the other hand, they need to step up cooperation in new fields such as climate change response, green economy, digital economy, and innovation, in which they have great potential for cooperation and match with the development goals of the two countries.

Hiệp added that the two countries are discussing the development of offshore wind farms in Việt Nam and exporting wind power to Singapore. Those projects not only help the two countries work towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions and achieving net zero emissions in the future but also help Việt Nam exploit the great potential of renewable energy.

In addition, as the two sides share strategic visions on the regional and international security situation, they can also consider deepening bilateral cooperation in security and defence.

They can also enhance consultation and coordination in international forums to better protect their national interests and contribute to the maintenance of a rules-based international order.

Hiệp assessed that in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Việt Nam and Singapore have close strategic mindset. In particular, both countries emphasised the role of a balanced diplomatic strategy, strategic self-reliance, supremacy of international law, as well as the need to maintain an international order based on international law.

He said that both countries also share a vision of a united, cohesive ASEAN that plays a central role in the regional security architectures. All these create favourable conditions for the two countries to consult and coordinate their views and stances on issues of common concern.

According to the expert, in the near future, the two sides need to coordinate their views to solve basic issues which are directly related to bilateral interests such as the East Sea or the water resource management in the Mekong River.

Other issues include the political crisis in Myanmar, and ASEAN’s relations with the US and China in the context of increasingly fierce strategic competition between the two powers.

Such coordination activities will contribute to strengthening political trust between the two countries, thereby helping to deepen the bilateral strategic partnership in the long run, he stressed. — VNS

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