Singaporean Prime Minister lauds Viet Nam relations
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has expressed his optimism about Singaporean-Vietnamese economic relations, saying the two countries “have been enhancing cooperation in many ways”.
Speaking to the Engligh-language daily Viet Nam News during a meeting with journalists from ASEAN member countries last weekend, Lee cited technical support, financial services, the stock market, aviation and tourism as priorities of the Viet Nam-Singapore Connectivity Framework Agreement, which was signed two years ago by both countries.
“We are increasing flights [between the two countries] under the tourism-service agreement, [which means] we will have more visitors, travelling on Tiger Air flights.”
Infrastructure development is also a focus of bilateral cooperation, according to the Prime Minister. “Port activity also has possibilities, and we are participating in a joint venture to develop a port in Ho Chi Minh City.”
Lee described the development of industrial parks as a “very promising” area for economic cooperation. “The Viet Nam-Singapore Industrial Park (IP), which was set up 10 years ago, is very successful,” he said. “We are developing a second IP near the first one in Binh Duong province, which is also successful. We are developing a third IP in the north, near Ha Noi.”
He revealed that the two countries would sign a MoU this week when Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung visits Singapore.
Asked about Viet Nam’s integration into the global community, Lee said : “I think Viet Nam is moving very quickly and attracting a lot of attention. I mean, economic growth is high, trade is high. [Besides], Viet Nam has already joined the WTO.”
The Singaporean Prime Minister said the Viet Nam-Singapore Connectivity Agreement had fostered bilateral cooperation in many areas, such as technical support, financial services, information technology, telecommunications and aviation.
Viet Nam is moving along in the “right direction,” Lee said, adding that it would not be easy to change overnight.
“Viet Nam is trying to close the [development] gap with China or to even to faster than China – and has met many challenges, but you have the determination and your people are very committed to this [process of economic integration].
“As we go to Ho Chi Minh City we can see everything is on the move, people are working hard day and night. The determination to move is there,” he said. However, he said infrastructure needed to be improved – as did the work of the civil service, adding : “These things are taking place.”
To bridge the development gap among ASEAN member countries a number of projects had been set up to support the training of government officials in Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Viet Nam, under the Initiative of ASEAN Integration (IAI), Lee said.
Among these IAI programmes was an initiative to set up “training centres” in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam. Since 2002, the four centres have been offering in-country training courses for government officials in a wide variety of fields, including English Language, IT, public administration, trade and tourism. So far 20,000 civil servants have attended IAI progerammes.
“We have to see globalisation as an opportunity and that means being prepared to move faster, to connect and catch up with the world. The faster we go, I think, the more we benefit,” Lee said.-(VNA)
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