First of all, I am wholeheartedly grateful to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the people of Singapore for warmly welcoming me and my delegation.
Singapore and Korea have a lot in common. Both countries have achieved astounding economic growth through investment in people and unceasing innovation. Our two countries have worked together toward the common goal of a free and open economy, as well as peace and stability in the region.
Today, Prime Minister Lee and I discussed concrete measures to elevate bilateral relations a step higher in a forward-looking manner.
First, we agreed to expand exchanges between the Governments and the peoples of our two countries, a rock-solid foundation for the advancement of bilateral ties. We will begin by increasing exchanges of high-ranking officials, including ourselves. I hope what was agreed upon at today’s summit will be implemented promptly through follow-up consultations.
Exchanges aimed at nurturing talent will also be expanded. We agreed to increase exchanges of our young future leaders in both countries and talented personnel in cutting-edge science and technology. The Korea-Singapore joint training program for government officials from ASEAN member states will be further upgraded as well.
Second, we reached an agreement on strengthening bilateral economic cooperation to substantively benefit the peoples of our two countries. Singapore is Korea’s second largest trading partner and top investment destination among ASEAN member states. Leveraging opportunities from the two countries’ complementary economic structures will further enhance growth potential.
Today, we agreed to work to significantly expand bilateral trade, which currently stands at about US$20 billion, and to help boost investments by swiftly finalizing negotiations to amend the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement between Korea and Singapore.
Korean businesses equipped with world-class technology and experience have so far participated in building landmarks in Singapore. I look forward to their continued contributions in infrastructure construction as well, which is now prioritized by Singapore, including transportation.
Among other things, the Prime Minister and I resolved to work together to prepare for the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. If the advanced technological prowess and capital of both countries are combined and utilized properly, it will make it possible to achieve remarkable outcomes in advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence, big data, fintech, bio-medical services and in other high-tech sectors.
Third, we reached an agreement to advance jointly into the smart city sector in third countries. Our two countries aim to enhance inter-city connectivity in ASEAN by working together to construct smart cities.
Singaporean companies are strong in smart city development and management software while Korean businesses excel in hardware such as information technology. If the strengths of our two countries are combined, we will be able to take the lead in the smart city sector in ASEAN and the rest of the world.
Fourth, we agreed to expand cooperation between small and medium-sized enterprises and startups. It is very significant for equitable economic development and the future advancement of national competitiveness. Both countries have also established new ministries that are in charge of affairs related to small and medium-sized enterprises.
Full government support will be provided so that companies from our two countries can jointly develop projects and advance together into third countries.
Fifth, we decided to closely cooperate for peace and prosperity in the region. Just one month ago, the historic North Korea-U.S. summit took place in Singapore. Prime Minister Lee and the people of Singapore offered great support in helping to open a new era of peace on the Korean Peninsula.
We concurred on the need to strengthen coordination regarding regional peace and stability. The scope of our cooperation will be expanded to cover even non-traditional areas, including maritime security, cybersecurity and environmental protection.
Singapore is the Chair of ASEAN this year. It is striving to create a more dynamic ASEAN community under the banner of innovation and resilience.
ASEAN is very important for Korea as well. Today, Prime Minister Lee and I discussed concrete measures for cooperation, including Korea’s New Southern Policy. I would like to see Korea-ASEAN cooperation expand in dimensions completely different from the past.
Lastly, I invited Prime Minister Lee to visit Korea at his convenience. The Prime Minister’s visit will further solidify our friendship and develop the relationship of our two countries even more.
Again, I offer my heartfelt appreciation to Prime Minister Lee and the people of Singapore for their warm welcome.