May I offer my warmest welcome to Prime Minister Modi and his delegation once again. He last visited us in 2015, where we signed the Strategic Partnership to commemorate 50 years of diplomatic relations. Since then, I have visited Delhi twice, and last met PM Modi during the Republic Day celebrations this January.
The Prime Minister and I are happy to report that we have made significant progress in our Strategic Partnership.
First, we concluded the Second Review of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA). I would like to thank PM Modi for his very strong support, and his personal attention and interest in this project. It shows that our economic ties are substantial and we want to do more together. Since we signed the CECA in 2004, our bilateral trade more than doubled from S$12 billion to S$25 billion. Singapore is now the second largest investor in India in FY2016, with a cumulative FDI from 2000 to 2016 at S$36 billion. There are some major specific investments that have taken place. For example, PSA in Mumbai Port, Sembcorp has power plants in India, and Ascendas-Singbridge’s IT parks in Bangalore, Hyderabad and other places.
Secondly, our defence ties have strengthened. Our navies exchanged an agreement today on logistics cooperation. We will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the annual Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercise (SIMBEX) this year.
Thirdly, we are collaborating on technology, smart cities and skills development, both at the national and state level. We have completed two projects that arose from PM Modi’s last visit. One, the training of 100 Indian officials by the Centre for Liveable Cities (CLC), and secondly, the North East Skills Centre in Guwahati, Assam, Singapore’s third in India, which will be operational later this year. The Andhra Pradesh Capital City Project at Amaravati is also progressing well, with Singapore Consortium ready to begin development of the city. Recently, we launched the Maharashtra-Singapore Joint Committee to explore economic cooperation, including city and airport planning and development in Pune.
PM Modi and I also agree that FinTech can be another key pillar of our Strategic Partnership. “Digital India” and the successful implementation of Aadhaar across India offers tremendous potential to develop FinTech services. India is a significant market for Singapore FinTech companies, while Singapore, which is a global FinTech hub, can be a gateway for India to enter the Southeast Asian market. Yesterday, we visited some of the start-up companies at the Business Event at Marina Bay Sands and several of them were doing FinTech projects, which have considerable promise. We agreed to establish a Joint Working Group on FinTech to support this effort. We have launched an initial link for our payment systems between NETS and RuPay – PM Modi launched it yesterday. Many Indian tourists will be able to use their RuPay cards for electronic payments at Changi Airport and selected operators across Singapore. Both sides are also discussing how Singapore can help internationalise the “India Stack”, to help other countries explore digital identity solutions – that means technologies and systems that India has built like Aadhaar, which can be used, put together and made into a platform for developing new services and capabilities.
Today, we have witnessed today the exchange of several other agreements on public administration, cyber security and combatting drug trafficking. We discussed further possibilities for enhancing our cooperation at our meeting this morning. The PM and I discussed the possibility of expanding our air services agreement, and agreed that we should start talking about a revised air services agreement because the traffic growth has been very strong. Last year, more than 4 million passengers travelled between the two countries. This year, the growth has continued strong and it has gone up another 14 per cent in the first quarter. An upgrade of this agreement will boost the business and tourism sectors, and bring our two peoples closer together.
I would also like to thank PM Modi for accepting my invitation to be the keynote speaker at this year’s Shangri-La Dialogue. He will be the first Indian Prime Minister to speak at the forum and it demonstrates his commitment to engage the region under the “Act East” policy. We all look forward to his speech this evening.
I also appreciate PM Modi’s personal attention to increasing India’s engagement with ASEAN. I am honoured to have attended the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit and Republic Day celebrations together with other ASEAN Leaders in New Delhi in January. Singapore, as the current ASEAN Chair, will work with India to continue strengthening the regional architecture, and in particular to conclude the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
I look forward to welcoming PM Modi back to Singapore in November for ASEAN meetings and the East Asia Summit, and to continue working with him to further deepen our cooperation both bilaterally and regionally.
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