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Speech by Minister Iswaran at the Singapore-Korea Business Forum

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His Excellency Moon Jae-in, President of the Republic of Korea (ROK) 

Mr Pek Lian Guan, Vice Chairman of the Singapore Business Federation

Mr Kim Young-ju, Chairman and CEO of the Korea International Trade Association

Distinguished Guests,

Members of the Business Community,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


Good afternoon.


1.         Let me begin by extending a warm welcome to His Excellency Moon Jae-in and his distinguished delegation to Singapore. Your visit, Mr President, affirms and gives renewed impetus to the strong and growing bilateral relations between the Republic of Korea and Singapore. It is also fitting that your visit comes one month after the historic summit between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the United States of America (USA), which was made possible by no small measure your active role, and Singapore had the honor of hosting this summit. I would also like to commend the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and the Korea International Trade Association (KITA) for organising this forum, which helps to further deepen bilateral ties by bringing together government and business leaders from Singapore and the Republic of Korea to exchange views and build networks.


Warm Bilateral Relations

2.         Singapore and Korea enjoy warm bilateral relations, anchored by regular exchanges, and strong people-to-people links. As export-oriented and innovation driven economies, Singapore and Korea share robust economic ties and a common outlook on the global economy, underpinned by the Korea-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (KSFTA) and the ASEAN-Korea FTA (AKFTA).  Since the KSFTA entered into force in 2006, Singapore-Korea bilateral trade has grown by almost 50% to reach S$45.4 billion last year.  In 2017, Singapore was Korea’s fourth largest investor.  There is potential to do more as our companies are increasingly looking at opportunities in regions beyond Seoul across sectors such as technology, e-commerce as well as consumer and lifestyle.

Joint Commitment to Free and Open Trade

3.         To forge broader and deeper economic collaboration between Singapore and Korea, MTI and ROK’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) exchanged three MOUs this morning. 

4.         The first MOU on Free and Open Trade reaffirms Singapore and Korea’s firm support for the rules-based multilateral trading system. Under this MOU, both sides will meet for the KSFTA review to ensure that it remains relevant to business needs.  Singapore and Korea will work towards the conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations by this year. The MOU is a positive and important signal of our mutual commitment towards free trade, especially in the context of rising global protectionism.

Cooperation in Fourth Industrial Revolution

5.         In an era of constant technology change and disruption of business models, our companies face similar challenges in the need to adapt and innovate. The other two MOUs signed by MTI and MOTIE seek to enhance technological cooperation under the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and Smart Grids between the two governments.  I hope that through the initiatives in these MOUs, more Singaporean and Korean companies can forge closer partnerships in joint R&D and commercialisation of technologies, as our economies undergo transformation under Industry 4.0.

Closer Partnerships in ASEAN and Beyond

6.         More broadly, ASEAN is a region that holds significant potential.  It is a growing market of 620 million people, with a projected annual growth rate of 5.2% from 2017 to 2020.  As Korean companies look to expand into the region under the New Southern Policy, Singapore companies can play an important role.  We hope that the MOUs signed between Enterprise Singapore and ROK Ministry of SMEs and Startups (MSS) and Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) during this visit will further enhance the cooperation between our SMEs and start-ups.


7.         As we look to the future, Singapore and the Republic of Korea should continue leveraging on each other’s strengths to tap on the growing opportunities in Asia, while contributing to peace and prosperity in the region.  I encourage more Korean companies, including SMEs and start-ups, to tap on Singapore’s strengths as the gateway to ASEAN and beyond.  I look forward to active discussions among the panelists and wish everyone a fruitful session at today’s forum.

8.         Thank you.

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LAST UPDATED 12 Jul 2018
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