Ambassador Jaya Ratnam: The potential and future of Singapore-Vietnam economic collaboration is bright!
|NA Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue (R) and Speaker of the Singaporean Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin in Hanoi on May 18. (Photo: VNA)|
“Singapore-Viet Nam ties have remained on an upward trajectory since the establishment of diplomatic relations in August 1973…apart from excellent economic ties and a common strategic outlook, [they] are also rooted in a deep friendship and trust, and supported at the highest levels on both sides", Ambassador Jaya Ratnam said when sharing about Speaker of the Parliament of Singapore Tan Chuan-Jin’s official visit to Viet Nam.
Could you please share your expectations about Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin’s visit to Viet Nam, taking place 3 months after the State Visit of Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc to Singapore (February 24-26)?
Speaker of the Parliament of Singapore Tan Chuan-Jin’s Official Visit to Viet Nam from 18 to 20 May 2022, at the invitation of his counterpart Chairman of the National Assembly Vuong Dinh Hue, is the second high-level visit between Singapore and Viet Nam since the start of 2022. Speaker Tan’s visit follows the very successful State visit by President Nguyen Xuan Phuc to Singapore in February – the very first State visit that Singapore has received since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also had a very fruitful discussion with Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on the sidelines of the ASEAN-US Special Summit (AUSS) in Washington D.C. earlier this month. The robust pace of high-level exchanges between Singapore and Viet Nam is a reversion to the very active engagement between our two countries prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and testament to the immense potential for further deepening and broadening of bilateral relations.
Speaker Tan and his delegation of six Members of Parliament are extremely honoured to be able to call on many of Viet Nam’s top leaders, including General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Viet Nam (CPV) Nguyen Phu Trong, Prime Minister Chinh, President Phuc, and Chairman Hue. The gracious hospitality and warmth shown to the delegation is indicative of the excellent ties between Singapore and Viet Nam, as well as the high degree of affinity between the leaders of both countries.
As both Singapore and Viet Nam look to recover from the pandemic and amidst an increasingly complicated geopolitical and economic situation, Speaker Tan’s visit was an important milestone for both sides to take stock of the foundations of our existing cooperation, and identify new areas to develop in order to keep the bilateral relationship forward-looking and relevant to the needs of both countries.
A major highlight of Speaker Tan’s visit was the focus on building people-to-people ties. During the visit, Speaker Tan and Chairman Hue signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to strengthen inter-parliamentary cooperation, which will facilitate more exchanges and mutual learning between our parliamentary bodies. Speaker Tan also visited Chu Van An High School, which is a partner school of Singapore’s National Junior College under the Singapore-Viet Nam School Twinning Programme, to observe how our educational exchanges have persisted and adapted to the challenges posed by COVID-19.
Prior to the official programme, Speaker Tan also attended the 31st SEA Games Opening Ceremony and supported Team Singapore athletes in his capacity as the President of the Singapore National Olympic Council. That he was able to witness the sportsmanship and camaraderie between Singaporean and Vietnamese athletes added an additional, special dimension to his visit.
In this regard, Speaker Tan’s visit is a timely reminder that, apart from excellent economic ties and a common strategic outlook, Singapore-Viet Nam ties are also rooted in a deep friendship and trust, and supported at the highest levels on both sides.
You have said that Viet Nam is a bright spot in terms of regional economic growth. Why do you think so?
Economic cooperation has been the cornerstone of our bilateral relationship and for good reason. Singaporeans and Singapore companies continue to see the vibrancy and potential of Viet Nam as an investment destination due to a confluence of factors.
First, Viet Nam continues to be one of the fastest growing economies in the world, despite the global economic slowdown. This is very attractive to investors as it illustrates that Viet Nam is poised to become a major engine for economic growth in the region.
Second, the Vietnamese government has made conscious efforts to improve the ease of doing business in Viet Nam and expand its network of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). This builds confidence in the country as well as the region at large, as it shows our openness to trade and our competitiveness in the global market.
It is for these reasons that Singapore has consistently been one of the top sources of foreign direct investment (FDI) into Viet Nam, even amidst the pandemic. The network of 10 Viet Nam-Singapore Industrial Parks (VSIPs) across Viet Nam continues to be important emblems of Singapore’s confidence in Viet Nam’s potential and we will continue to find ways to upgrade and diversify our VSIPs to support Viet Nam’s economic growth.
Looking forward, Viet Nam has also prioritised the growth and development of the digital economy to adapt to and leverage on the disruptions caused by COVID-19. This is an area where Singapore and Viet Nam share similar views, and the MOU for Cooperation in the field of Digital Economy, which was signed during President Phuc’s State visit earlier this year, will help both sides to operationalise cooperation in this field.
We also look forward to working together to deepen cooperation in new areas such as the green economy, renewable energy, cybersecurity, cross-border data flows, and smart cities. This will benefit not just our respective economies, but also invite more investment in the region and enhance global economic integration. The potential and future of Singapore-Viet Nam economic collaboration is bright indeed!
|Singapore’s Ambassador to Viet Nam Jaya Ratnam. (Photo: QT)|
How can Singapore and Viet Nam cooperate in multilateral economic agreements or initiatives?
As fellow ASEAN Member States, Singapore and Viet Nam’s participation in multilateral economic agreements exemplifies our commitment to free trade and growing our economies. For example, we are both members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). We are also the only two ASEAN countries with a free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union.
We should leverage these agreements and the platforms they provide to ensure that our region remains competitive. As the global landscape develops rapidly, we should also continue to be forward-looking and explore more partnerships with the region and beyond in areas like FinTech, digital solutions, and the green economy.
In parallel with our involvement in multilateral agreements, Singapore will also continue to work with Viet Nam in the area of human capital development, to ensure that our progress remains sustainable and to continuously upskill our populations to deal with the challenges of today. I am happy to note that Viet Nam is the number one partner of the Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP) and we look forward to the expansion of several SCP programmes, especially since borders have reopened.
In the context that the two countries will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2023, what are your main focuses to push cooperation in many areas such as education, technology and people-to-people exchanges?
Singapore-Viet Nam ties have remained on an upward trajectory since the establishment of diplomatic relations in August 1973. In 2023, we will celebrate not only the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations, but also the 10th anniversary of our Strategic Partnership. We have been able to make such significant progress due to the close relationship between our leaders, our progressive bilateral agenda, and our exceptional people-to-people ties.
In the lead up to and given the importance Singapore attaches to Viet Nam and this occasion, we hope to maintain the momentum of high-level exchanges moving into 2023, particularly since our borders have re-opened to one another, without the need for pre-departure tests both ways.
During the meeting between Prime Minister Lee and Prime Minister Chinh at the AUSS, they discussed the commemoration of this important milestone. It will be important to showcase the full scope of bilateral cooperation across multiple sectors, and we very much look forward to an exciting slate of events that will be lined up to celebrate this momentous occasion.