July 25, 2023
SINGAPORE – Singapore and Hong Kong share a close relationship, with similar challenges as global cities in their respective regions, and many opportunities to cooperate with each other, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
He and Hong Kong leader John Lee on Monday reaffirmed the close and longstanding relations between the two cities, on the Chief Executive’s first visit to Singapore in his official capacity.
Mr Lee, who became Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in July 2022, arrived in Singapore on Sunday for a three-day visit, the first stop of his week-long Asean trip.
Over lunch hosted by PM Lee, both leaders discussed ways to deepen cooperation in trade and investment, arts and culture, and innovation and research, as well as welcomed the resumption of exchanges between the Singapore and Hong Kong civil services following the Covid-19 pandemic.
The two leaders last met at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Bangkok in November 2022.
PM Lee said he was glad to have the opportunity to continue the conversation with Mr Lee.
“Singapore and Hong Kong share a close relationship. Hong Kong is home to one of the largest overseas Singaporean communities, which reflects our close people-to-people ties.
“Our cities face similar challenges as global hubs in our respective regions. We can learn from and work with each other in many ways, including through civil service exchanges. By cooperating, we will contribute to the growth and vibrancy of our two cities and the wider region.”
PM Lee also expressed confidence in Hong Kong’s continued development and prosperity under the “one country, two systems” framework.
Earlier on Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong hosted Mr Lee to breakfast.
In a Facebook post, Mr Wong, who is also Minister for Finance, said Singapore and Hong Kong play complementary roles.
“We share best practices and learn from each other. We have many exchanges between our leaders in the public and private sectors, and also at the people-to-people level,” he said.
“Importantly, we benefit from closer collaboration in our respective regions, including in South-east Asia and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area.”
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said that in today’s environment, where many countries have turned inwards and are mounting protectionist measures, Singapore and Hong Kong must continue to be beacons of free trade and proponents of a rules-based global trade architecture.
Mr Heng, who is also Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies, was speaking at a dinner organised by the Hong Kong government and its trade development council, which was attended by Mr Lee and his delegation, along with the city’s business leaders.
“Against this backdrop, it is imperative for like-minded economies like Singapore and Hong Kong to remain advocates of free trade and contribute towards maintaining an open and rules-based regional trade architecture,” said Mr Heng, reiterating Singapore’s support for Hong Kong’s application to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a free trade pact among 15 countries in the Asia-Pacific.
He also called on both cities to look for new areas of collaboration, especially in growth sectors such as digital trade, and intellectual property protection and enforcement.
“This is how we can continue partnering each other for success, and bring benefits to our people, businesses and economies.”
In 2022, Hong Kong was Singapore’s fifth-largest trading partner and third-largest destination for outbound investments, while Singapore was Hong Kong’s fourth-largest trading partner and seventh-largest investor.
Seven memorandums of understanding covering areas such as business promotion, fintech, innovation and entrepreneurship, decarbonisation, and research and development were signed between Singapore and Hong Kong organisations on Mr Lee’s trip
The Chief Executive leaves Singapore on Tuesday, with Indonesia and Malaysia as his next stops.