Transcript of Remarks by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at Joint Press Conference with Kenyan President William Ruto on Thursday, 18 May 2023

19 May 2023

President William Ruto, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon to everybody.


I thank President Ruto for his warm hospitality and his warm words. This is my first official visit to Kenya and I am delighted to be here today.


Despite being geographically quite distant, Singapore and Kenya have similar outlooks. Our peoples share similar aspirations, such as inclusive growth, a high standard of living, ethnic and religious harmony, and good housing, healthcare and education. We share similar views on the challenges faced by the Global South. We both worry about growing geopolitical tensions, rising protectionism, threats to the multilateral trading system, inflation, pandemics, and climate change.


We agreed that it was important that countries continue to work towards building linkages in the digital economy, cooperating on food, energy security, and sustainable development.


President Ruto and I reaffirmed the warm and longstanding relations between Singapore and Kenya. Two years ago, we celebrated our 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations. And our two countries cooperate and exchange experiences in areas such as governance, public service administration, urban planning, and liveable cities.


Our economic cooperation has been growing. Kenya is one of Singapore’s important trading partners in Sub-Saharan Africa. Despite COVID-19, bilateral trade in 2021 increased by almost a quarter year-on-year. Several Singapore companies are operating in Kenya in a variety of sectors, e.g. shipping, logistics and port management systems, agribusiness, hospitality, and Fintech solutions, amongst others. A delegation of Singapore companies is in Nairobi. They came with me to pursue opportunities for investments and partnerships with Kenyan companies.


Our two countries also collaborate well in multilateral fora. President Ruto and I reaffirmed our shared commitment to multilateralism and a rules-based global order. Singapore and Kenya agreed to continue our cooperation at the UN and other multilateral organisations and to cooperate on UN reform to enhance its effectiveness.


We discussed new areas of cooperation. First, on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). We just signed an MOU in this area, which would allow both sides to exchange best practices and knowledge in ICT, and promote talent development and innovations. The MOU will also facilitate and strengthen strategic cooperation in cybersecurity.


Secondly, on climate change. We signed an MOU in carbon credits collaboration under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. This will encourage, develop, and facilitate collaborative carbon credits projects of mutual interest. International collaboration, such as this agreement between Singapore and Kenya, is critical to promoting global climate action to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.


Third, on human capital development. Both our countries place heavy emphasis on nurturing talent. The MOU on skills development will encourage closer technical cooperation between both countries in areas such as Leadership and Governance, Education, and Digitalisation. This will take place through knowledge exchange, capacity building courses, and other cooperation.


There is great potential to expand our bilateral cooperation. Kenya’s strategic location serves as a gateway for Singapore companies into East Africa. Likewise, Singapore can serve as a gateway for Kenyan companies into Southeast Asia. I welcome the ratification of the bilateral investment treaty and the President’s commitment to settle the Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement between our two countries as soon as possible. These moves send a strong, positive signal to businesses and provide clear clarity and assurance on cross border transactions and investment.


I look forward to working with President Ruto and his government to bring our bilateral relations to even greater heights. I am very happy that the President has accepted my invitation to visit Singapore and I look forward to receiving him before too long, and if all goes well, early next year.


Thank you.



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