[Sponsored Report] Singapore celebrates one more year of prosperity

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[Sponsored Report] Singapore celebrates one more year of prosperity

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Ambassador Peter Tan Hai Chuan

Singapore celebrates its 49th National Day on Aug. 9, 2014. The Singapore economy is doing well, posting a 3.9 percent real GDP growth in 2013, and is expected to grow by 2 to 4 percent in 2014. As a small nation lacking natural resources, we have made remarkable progress since independence in 1965. Singapore today is vibrant and cosmopolitan, and has become a top choice in Asia to live, work and study.

Despite global economic uncertainties, Singapore has maintained competitiveness by keeping our economy open for business, trade and investments. Singapore’s government is committed to clean and effective governance, allowing for beneficial long-term policies. In 2014, Singapore was ranked the easiest place to do business in the world by the World Bank. It was also the top city for meetings in a ranking of 1,465 cities by the Union of International Associations for seven consecutive years, Asia’s least bureaucratic place to do business and the most transparent country in Asia. Singapore hosts regional offices of many leading multinational corporations, including top Korean companies, and is becoming one of the world’s leading financial centers.

Singapore continues to invest in our future generations, and boasts some of the top education institutions in Asia. The National University of Singapore was ranked second in Asia by The Times Higher Education Asia for 2014. Singapore has also attracted top international education institutions, such as INSEAD, MIT and Yale University, to set up campuses or partner with local institutions. Our emphasis on education also extends beyond our schools and into the workplace - where government and employers work hand-in-hand to continually upgrade the skills of our work force. Singapore’s focus on quality life-long education and our longstanding bilingual policy has allowed our people to stay relevant and thrive in a competitive global workplace.

Central to our identity is our multicultural heritage and openness to global influences. This is reflected in our arts and cultural scene, which has grown in vibrancy and scale. Singapore has hosted numerous international performers and exhibitions over the past year. Singaporean film “Ilo Ilo” won the Camera d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, while Singaporean home-grown artists have gained prominence internationally, participating widely at international arts and film festivals globally, including Korea. Further, Singapore’s diverse heritage can be seen in our wide variety of foods - from traditional Peranakan dishes, to international cuisine prepared by world-renowned chefs. We would like to encourage our Korean friends to visit Singapore to enjoy the vibrant cultural and culinary scene in Singapore.

Singapore and the Republic of Korea have enjoyed strong bilateral relations and will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties next year. We share many interests - including the importance of free and open international trade and a peaceful and nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. Our strong relations are underpinned by frequent high-level meetings between our leaders. In December last year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made an official visit to the ROK and had a good discussion with President Park Geun-hye on issues including greater cooperation in the Korea-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (KSFTA), aviation issues and collaboration for the creative economy. Shortly after that, Singapore Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim led a study visit to the ROK and met with the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP) and Korean businesses, to discuss collaboration and exchange ideas. We look forward to more high-level political exchanges - a reflection of the strength of our bilateral ties.

Economic relations between our countries have flourished since the KSFTA in 2006. Singapore is Korea’s sixth-largest trading partner while Korea is Singapore’s eighth-largest trading partner, with bilateral trade amounting to $50.9 billion in 2013. As discussed by Prime Minister Lee and President Park last December, it has been some time since the KSFTA took effect, and a robust review of the KSFTA is timely. We look forward to working with Korean officials for the review. Additionally, both countries can further cooperate on aviation issues to promote greater economic and people-to-people exchanges. As aviation hubs in our respective regions, we look forward to further liberalize aviation links with Korea to connect Southeast Asian and Korean consumers to other global destinations.

Singapore and Korea possess complementary qualities, giving rise to greater partnership opportunities. In line with President Park’s plan to develop the creative economy and internationalize Korean companies, a number of Korean organizations have chosen to collaborate with Singapore partners to capitalize on Singapore’s strengths as a regional hub and our access to global trade. The Korean Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI) has recently partnered with Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) to establish the KHIDI-A*STAR Medtech Development Centre in Singapore in June 2014. In July 2014, MSIP also established a Korea IT Cooperation Centre in Singapore. We look forward to deepening S&T collaboration, leveraging on our respective strengths and generating mutual benefits.

We are happy to note that more than 1,000 Korean companies have taken advantage of Singapore’s geographical location and business-friendly environment to set up offices and deepen their presence in Singapore, including Samsung Electronics, NHN, SPC Group and Amore Pacific. Similarly, many Singaporean companies have invested substantively in Korea, such as Ascendas, CHC Food, DBS, Mapletree and PSA. Singapore companies Genting Singapore and SUTL - both key players in Singapore’s tourism and lifestyle projects - have announced major investments in Jeju and Busan. These are expected to provide a boost to local hospitality sectors. Recently, Singapore food manufacturing companies have signed MoUs with Korea’s Foodpolis development in Jeollabuk-do, as Korea strives to become a food manufacturing hub. Singapore companies play a meaningful role in Korea’s economic ecosystem by creating quality employment opportunities and energizing their respective sectors.

I believe that with continued support from our Korean friends, Singapore and Korea will build stronger ties in the years to come. On Singapore’s 49th National Day, let me wish all Singaporeans in Korea a happy National Day, and friends of Singapore a happy and prosperous year.

By Kim Young-shin [yskim11@joongang.co.kr]



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