08 Aug 2013
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen;
Good evening and a warm welcome to the reception to celebrate Singapore’s 48th Birthday.
Singapore is in a period of transition. As our economy matures, we expect slower economic growth. We are mindful of the future challenges that we would need to address. Land and labour resources will be tight; competition from emerging economies will intensify; and technological advancement will transform the way our industries and markets operate. At the same time, there are social challenges such as an aging population, a widening income gap and integrating new migrants that we will have to grapple with. However, our success in the past 48 years is apparent to all. As a small and open economy, Singapore thrives on proactively managing different challenges. With the support of our people and friends, we are confident that we will be able to overcome our latest challenges and chart a brighter future for Singapore.
China has been one our closest partners. We have maintained good and mutually beneficial cooperation with China, which has evolved over time in line with our changing development priorities. In the 1990s, we developed the Suzhou Industrial Park in line with China’s economic modernisation efforts. When China shifted focus to sustainable development in the early 21st century, we work together to develop the Tianjin Eco-City. Since then, we have collaborated in developing the Guangzhou Knowledge City, the Sichuan Hi-Tech Innovation Park, and the Jilin Food Zone, which are aligned to China’s priorities in promoting innovation and ensuring food safety.
In the past year, we achieved new milestones in our cooperation. In September last year, both sides exchanged Letters of Intent to cooperate and share experiences in social management. Under this framework, the inaugural “Singapore-China Social Management Forum” was successfully held in Singapore. In addition, in April this year, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC)’s Singapore branch was designated as a Renminbi clearing centre, the first of such centre outside Greater China. This will aid China’s efforts to gradually internationalise the Renminbi.
Similarly, our cooperation with Fujian has remained strong. As Fujian Party Secretary, Mr You Quan had noted, Fujian’s development was “ushering in a rare historical opportunity”. This would bring fresh opportunities to enhance our economic cooperation. While our existing investments in Fujian may not be very large, it is in niche industries where Fujian has an interest to develop and upgrade, and where Singapore has the necessary strengths. Examples include the ST Aerospace’s aircraft engine maintenance plant in Xiamen, PSA International’s container ports in Fuzhou, and YCH Logistics’ eco-friendly warehouse in Xiamen. In addition, riding on Singapore’s strengths in the financial and services sectors, and our connectivity with Southeast Asia, we will continue to help Fujian companies “Go Global” and develop into international brands. We also have good cooperation in the area of social management. One of the most successful projects in Fujian is the Singapore-Fujian Friendship Polyclinic. Given that Singapore and Fujian shares similar challenges in social management, there is scope to strengthen and deepen cooperation in this area.
Lastly, I wish to thank all our Singaporean and Chinese friends for their longstanding support. I look forward to continue working with you to bring Singapore-China relations to the next level. Thank you.