Important to strengthen ties
S'pore and India should move beyond economic ties and cooperate on broader scope: PM
NEW DELHI - It is important Singapore and India go beyond economics and strengthen ties across a broad range of activities, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.
Speaking at a business summit organized by captains of industry, Mr Lee said he welcomed new bilateral initiatives during his visit and talks with Indian leaders.
These include the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in vocational education and skills development.
Also, Singapore's Institute of Technical Education and the Delhi State Government's Department of Training and Technical Education will establish a World Class Skills Centre in New Delhi.
Mr Lee said the aim was to train up to 15,000 students in electronics, hospitality, finance and other fields.
He also noted that Singapore offers many opportunities for Indian companies, being a global economy with an international workforce.
This makes the country a good base for Indian companies to expand internationally, Mr Lee said. Singapore is also a safe test-bed for innovative technologies, he noted.
Adding that Singapore is also an attractive partner for Indian companies, he cited the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, which aims to create a global manufacturing and trading hub.
Some Singaporean companies are participating in the project: Jurong Consultants completed a feasibility study for the Manesar-Bawal Investment Region in Haryana and Hyflux is co-developing a seawater desalination plant in the Dahej Special Economic Zone in Gujarat.
Mr Lee reiterated that investors rely on good governance, predictable regulatory regimes and a hassle-free, rules-based business environment before making major long-term commitments. In that regard, he welcomed the ongoing dialogue between Singapore's economic agencies and India's Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion to discuss common challenges faced by the Republic's companies in India.
Mr Lee said he looked forward to a mutually beneficial outcome which would improve India's investment climate for all investors, not only Singapore. He said he hopes the second review of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement between the two countries will be concluded soon.
The agreement, which was signed in June 2005, integrated pacts on trade in goods and services, investment protection and economic cooperation in areas such as education, intellectual property and science and technology.
While passenger movements between Singapore and India have continued to grow despite the economic downturn, Singapore's connectivity to India is significantly more limited under the air services agreement, compared to China. Mr Lee said the two countries should try to liberalize the aviation sector and allow more flights between them.
By S Ramesh
12 July 2012