Your Excellency Mr Sergey Levin
Deputy Minister of Agriculture for the Russian Federation,
Ladies and gentlemen,
1. A very good afternoon from Singapore.
2. Thank you Minister Levin for inviting me to this event.
3. I am pleased to discuss the prospects of enhancing agricultural trade between Russia and Singapore.
4. Russia and Singapore share warm economic relations. Trade between our countries has been increasing. Over the last 10 years, excluding the impact of COVID-19, our trade grew by almost 40%.
5. Our companies have invested in a diverse range of sectors in each other’s markets, including the agricultural sector.
a) Singapore’s Olam International operates a dairy farm in Penza.
They also export cocoa beans and instant coffee to regional markets.
b) Last February, Russia’s Don Agro International became the first Russian-based company to join the Singapore Exchange (SGX) Catalist Board.
6. Russian companies have also expressed interest to establish a presence in Singapore to provide agri-tech solutions.
7. Singapore is developing a food innovation ecosystem and our companies are exploring new food solutions. An example is Agrocorp, a Singapore agri-commodities company that has developed capabilities to create a plant-based version of paneer, or cottage cheese, by using peas as an alternative protein ingredient to milk.
8. We welcome Russian companies to partner Singapore companies to develop innovative food solutions together through R&D activities and collaborations.
9. Import diversification is a key strategy for Singapore. Singapore imports more than 90% of our food from about 170 countries worldwide.
10. We see opportunities to partner Russia in this area.Last year, Singapore imported cocoa, fish, tea, and coffee from Russia.
11. We are keen to diversify this to a wider range of products.The Singapore Food Agency, which looks into ensuring Singapore has a resilient and safe source of food supply, has approved two Russian establishments to export chicken and pork into Singapore. We look forward to the start of these imports, which will give local consumers an opportunity to try Russian produce.
12. Singapore companies are also keen to export food to Russia.This includes seafood, tea, and Asian snacks and sauces. Enterprise Singapore, an agency under the Ministry of Trade and Industry which promotes internationalisation, has been assisting companies to do so. Enterprise Singapore has an office in Moscow which can play an important role in facilitating business links between Russian and Singapore enterprises.
13. Singapore is also negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union Member States, including Russia.The Agreement, when it enters into force, can streamline procedures and reduce business costs for Russian and Singapore companies, facilitating greater trade between both our countries.
14. We also encourage Russian companies to export food products to other Southeast Asian markets, and consider Singapore as a gateway to access the region. Singapore’s extensive network of 26 Free Trade Agreements will better support companies to do so.
15. We should continue to work together to advance these mutual interests, and increase the mindshare of Russia in Singapore, and vice-versa.Our countries already share good air connectivity, with Singapore Airlines operating direct Moscow-Singapore flights. We should capitalise on the reliable freight schedules and reduced freight costs of direct flights, to increase agricultural trade flow.
16. This business mission is an excellent step. It will facilitate a meaningful discussion, allowing us to share experiences and ideas with friends and partners.
17. I look forward to subsequent discussions on topics like food safety, trends and opportunities in our markets, and business matching sessions that will help connect interested Russian exporters with Singapore importers and logistics players.
18. I thank Russia’s Ministry of Agriculture and AgroExport for hosting this event.
19. It is especially pertinent amidst the COVID-19, which has underscored the importance of having like-minded and trusted partners, who can work together to ensure that global supply chains remain open, connected, and resilient.
20. I am confident that this event will be the launchpad of many initiatives between Russia and Singapore in the area of agricultural trade.
21. I encourage representatives present today to build on this good momentum and explore partnerships with each other.
22. Thank you.