Your Excellency Bui Thanh Son, Foreign Minister of Vietnam
Ambassador Mai Phuoc Dung
Ladies and Gentlemen
Good evening. I want to bid a very warm welcome to my brother, Foreign Minister Son. We just spent most of last week together in Jakarta (for the 56th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting), but I am always happy to see you and to welcome you back to your second home, Singapore. Thank you for accepting my invitation to visit Singapore. I would also like to thank the Vietnam Embassy for hosting this dinner reception.
2 Tonight, we celebrate several important milestones. 2023 marks 50 years since Singapore and Vietnam established diplomatic relations, and 10 years since we established our Strategic Partnership. Our bilateral relations have grown tremendously over these years.
3 Let me highlight three areas of focus. First, our leaders built strong trust with one another. In 1991, the late Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet asked Mr Lee Kuan Yew to advise Vietnam on opening up its economy. This marked the beginning of a close personal relationship between our leaders. We continue to reap the harvest from that foundation.
4 Second, we prioritised economic development. One of the most important projects is the Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP). In 1994, then-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong proposed the idea to Prime Minister Kiet. Vietnam had been experiencing rapid growth since the Doi Moi Reforms in 1986, and the VSIP leveraged the complementary strengths of both our countries to drive economic development forward.
5 Third, we worked together to build a prosperous and peaceful Southeast Asia under one roof of ASEAN. ASEAN welcomed Vietnam’s accession in 1995, and Vietnam has made critical and important contributions our regional peace and stability.
6 Fast-forward to today, and you will see that our relationship continues to grow very rapidly. Our leaders meet regularly and enjoy excellent rapport. Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh made a successful Official Visit to Singapore in February this year, and we look forward to reciprocating with a visit by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to Vietnam soon. President Halimah Yacob also had a very good meeting with President Vo Van Thuong recently in London.
7 More broadly, we have developed various longstanding institutionalised frameworks for cooperation. The inaugural Singapore-Vietnam Connectivity Ministerial Meeting (CMM) was held in 2006, where our economic ministries held talks on how to strengthen cooperation further. Last year, Second Minister for Trade and Industry Tan See Leng chaired the 16th CMM, which has expanded in scope to include discussions on innovation, energy, and digitalisation.
8 Similarly, MFA organised the first Study Visit for senior officials from the Communist Party of Vietnam in 2010. Last month, we welcomed the 17th CPV delegation led by Chairman of the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City Phan Van Mai to Singapore. These are examples of our efforts to continuously strengthen our diplomatic and political ties.
9 On the economic front, Vietnam has consistently been one of Asia’s top performers. Singaporean businesses are confident in Vietnam’s long-term economic prospects. Since 2020, Singapore has been one of Vietnam’s top sources of foreign investment. This is a vote of confidence in Vietnam’s future.
10 We have invested more than USD25 billion over the past three years, with substantial interests in financial services, manufacturing, and real estate. In tandem, our bilateral trade grew 16% year-on-year to reach SGD 31.3 billion in 2022, and this was during COVID-19.
11 We have expanded the VSIP model across Vietnam. Today, 14 VSIPs have been established. They have attracted USD17 billion in investments and created more than 300,000 jobs. The VSIP has become a symbol and an enduring icon of our fruitful bilateral cooperation.
12 The 7th Singapore Regional Business Forum (SRBF) was held in Hanoi earlier this month with hundreds of Singaporean and international companies in attendance. This was the first time the SRBF was held outside Singapore and is a reflection of Vietnam’s immense economic potential and our long-term partnership.
13 Regionally, Singapore and Vietnam share similar outlooks on many issues and a commitment to the importance of multilateralism and international law.
14 We are committed to upholding ASEAN Centrality and unity to preserve the international rules-based order. ASEAN is our common pillar of regional partnership and that gives us credibility when we engage external partners as well.
15 Looking ahead, our relations have grown quickly and substantially over the decades. Even as we celebrate our achievements over the last 50 years, we should continue to consolidate and strengthen a foundation for new areas of cooperation over the next 50 years.
16 When Prime Minister Chinh visited in February, he and Prime Minister Lee witnessed the signing of the Green Digital Economic Partnership (GDEP) Agreement. We are both very keen to harness renewable energy for a sustainable future. Vietnam’s recent approval of Power Development Plan-8 (PDP-8) and its net-zero commitments at COP-26 demonstrate Vietnam’s resolve to collaborate on the green economy.
17 We are already working to integrate green technology into many of our projects. The Binh Duong III VSIP was built to be environmentally friendly, and includes a fifty-hectare solar farm which provides sustainable energy to industrial tenants. It is also home to LEGO Group’s first carbon-neutral factory. We look forward to making much more progress on these frontier issues of energy and carbon credits soon.
18 Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, please join me in a toast:
To His Excellency Vo Van Thuong, the President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam;
To the health, prosperity, and progress of the people of Vietnam; and
To the enduring friendship between our countries.
19 Thank you.
Photos Credits: Ministry of Foreign Affairs