Speech by 2M Tan See Leng at the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) Business Dialogue on the sidelines of Vietnam President Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s State Visit to Singapore

Speech by 2M Tan See Leng at the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) Business Dialogue on the sidelines of Vietnam President Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s State Visit to Singapore

Your Excellency Nguyen Xuan Phuc, President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam 

Ministers, Vice Ministers, and Leaders of Provinces

Mr Lim Ming Yan, Chairman of the Singapore Business Federation

Distinguished guests

1. I am honoured to welcome Your Excellencies and the rest of our Vietnamese guests, to the Singapore Business Federation Business Dialogue this afternoon. 

2. After two years of the COVID-19 pandemic and virtual engagements online, it is a delight to see everyone here in person and to have our businesses from both Singapore and Vietnam interact with each other in a physical setting once again.  

3. This in itself is a testament to the excellent and close bilateral relations that Singapore and Vietnam share with each other, supported by our strong and robust economic ties. Bilateral trade between Singapore and Vietnam has grown steadily over the past decade, reaching S$26.9 billion in 2021. This is a remarkable 18.7% increase from the year before. 

4. More Singapore companies are also choosing to invest in Vietnam, riding on - and contributing to - the country’s steady economic growth. The Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Parks (VSIPs) have expanded to 10 all around Vietnam, attracting US$15.6 billion in investments and creating over 290,000 jobs. Singapore companies are expanding within the main cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and also into other regions such as Vinh Phuc and Bac Ninh provinces in the north, and Binh Duong province in the south.  

5. This trend does not appear to be slowing down, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, according to updates from the Vietnam authorities, Singapore’s foreign direct investment into Vietnam amounted to nearly US$10.7 billion. This made Singapore the largest investor in Vietnam in 2021, accounting for 34.4% of Vietnam’s total foreign capital investments that year. 

6. Singapore and Vietnam have also continued to identify new areas of bilateral economic cooperation. During the 15th Singapore-Vietnam Connectivity Ministerial Meeting (CMM), which I co-chaired with His Excellency Nguyen Chi Dung in November last year, we affirmed our commitment to explore cooperation in renewable energy, innovation and start-ups. This was on top of our ongoing partnerships in the infrastructure, industrial, digital, financial, agriculture, services, tourism, transport and education sectors. 

7. Just earlier today, His Excellency Nguyen Hong Dien and I also signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Economic and Trade Cooperation between Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry and Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade. 

8. The MOU underscores our shared commitment to expand collaboration in the digital economy, facilitate business partnerships in the industrial and energy sectors, and encourage more information sharing on best practices, certification and standards in the agriculture industry. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the MOU also aims to enhance our resilience by building more robust supply chains and facilitating smooth and continued trade flows between both countries even in times of crises. 

9. Beyond our bilateral cooperation, I am also happy that Singapore and Vietnam have ratified the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement, which came into effect for both countries on 1 Jan 2022. 

10. Both countries are also Parties to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The two agreements signify Singapore and Vietnam’s commitment to advance free and open global trade under a rules-based trading system. 

11. For businesses operating in Singapore and Vietnam, these agreements translate into benefits in both traditional and emerging trade fields such as additional preferential Trade in Goods market access coverage, enhanced investment rules and disciplines, streamlined rules of origin, and additional disciplines in e-commerce, competition law and intellectual property (IP) rights. 

12. The strong interest and participation in the SBF Business Dialogue today is testament to the close ties between our business communities. I am heartened to hear that there will be an exchange of MOUs and agreements today, both between businesses and governments, and businesses and businesses. 

13. These documents span a wide range of sectors including infrastructure, industrial, agriculture, education, green and renewable energy, logistics, and smart urban development. They also demonstrate our governments and businesses’ confidence in each other’s capabilities and strengths, and the mutual benefit of closer collaboration. 

14. I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to our Vietnamese counterparts for their continued support and close partnership. I am confident that Vietnam’s fast-growing economy is well positioned to take on challenges facing us globally, while keeping up with new trends and opportunities such as the digital and green economy. 

15. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it even more crucial for close partners like Singapore and Vietnam to work together in mutual areas of interest. On that note, I would like to encourage other Singapore and Vietnamese businesses to leverage on the strengths of both markets to expand and pursue opportunities in both countries.  

16. The Singapore Business Federation has helped to facilitate Singapore businesses who are planning to expand and set up in Vietnam, through the GlobalConnect@SBF programme initiated in 2019 and the set up of Singapore Enterprise Centre in Ho Chi Minh City in January 2021. 

17. For Vietnamese businesses who are ready and keen to seek partners from Singapore, our Enterprise Singapore offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are more than happy to support and link you up with trusted and reliable companies in Singapore as well. 

18. The strength of our economies and close partnership between our businesses will be key to supporting our recovery, as both Singapore and Vietnam emerge stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic.

19. Once again, I wish Your Excellencies and our Vietnamese guests a fruitful and enjoyable visit to Singapore, and look forward to seeing new long-term partnerships forged between Singapore and Vietnamese businesses following today’s session. 

20. Thank you. 

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