Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran, Vice Chairman of the Singapore Business Federation Pek Lian Guan, Chairman of the Korea International Trade Association Kim Young-ju, distinguished business leaders of Korea and Singapore, I am glad to meet you all.
I am filled with special emotion to visit Singapore this time. That is partly because it is the first state visit by a Korean President in 15 years, but mainly because the impressions of the North Korea-United States summit held last month still linger. While all eyes were on the event, the Korean people and I watched with joyful hearts the reconciliation between the North and the United States.
Thanks to proactive support from Singapore, the historic summit could be successfully wrapped up.
Notably, the people of Singapore commemorated the summit by creating various menu items such as the “peace burger” topped with American cheese and North Korean kimchi and “Kim Jong Un-Trump latte” with their faces drawn on the foam.
The North Korea-U.S. summit is a great achievement accomplished together with Singapore. I am deeply grateful to the Government and the people of Singapore for their enthusiastic support for peace and the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Distinguished business leaders of Korea and Singapore,
Singapore is truly in prosperity and harmony. Its skyscrapers form unique skylines. What can be found in verdant urban parks are the forward-looking insights of former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. A variety of ethnicities, cultures and religions from different countries harmonize with each other amid diversity on the streets.
The economic development achieved by Singapore in such a short span of time is truly astonishing: A US$60,000 per capita income, a high employment rate of 80 percent, a global logistics hub, the fourth largest international financial and crude oil markets and the cleanest and safest county in the world—these dazzling accomplishments are what Singapore has achieved as a small but strong nation with a territory the size of Seoul and a population of 5.6 million.
Openness, inclusiveness, meritocracy, pragmatism, the strict rule of law and discipline have served as the foundation of Singapore’s advancement. Approximately 30 percent of its population is made up of foreign nationals, its trade volume more than doubles its GDP and the number of tourists visiting the country is more than three times its population. The country ranks among the world’s best in national competitiveness and integrity.
I express my respect to the great leaders and people of Singapore who helped make their country rich and powerful by exercising self-restraint and promoting openness and inclusiveness.
Distinguished business leaders,
Once known as part of the Four Asian Dragons, Singapore and Korea have been growing together, sometimes cooperating with each other and at other times competing with each other.
Tanjong Pagar Centre, the highest building in Singapore, and the world-class Changi Airport were built with sweat and passion provided by Korean construction companies. Marina Bay Sands, the hotel comprising three high-rises connected by a hull-shaped crown, has become the symbol of Singapore.
More than 800 Korean companies operating in Singapore have increased their investments in the logistics, manufacturing and service sectors and helped create job opportunities, thus contributing to the economy of Singapore.
Singapore has steadily increased its investments in Korea and is now our fourth largest inbound investor.
The exchanges between our two peoples have continuously increased; last year alone, about 850,000 people traveled back and forth between our two countries.
Nowadays many young Koreans seeking overseas employment are turning their eyes toward Singapore, an Asian hub for many multinational corporations. Over the past three years, more than 1,500 young Koreans have found jobs in Singapore.
Distinguished business leaders,
At the summit held this morning, Prime Minister Lee and I agreed to strive to further upgrade bilateral exchanges and cooperation to a new level in a forward-looking manner.
During my visit to ASEAN last year, I unveiled the ASEAN-ROK Future Community Vision, through which I proposed promoting people-centered economic cooperation that will enable us to enjoy mutual prosperity and build a peaceful future community together. I hope Singapore, a leading country in ASEAN and its Chair this year, will play a significant role in our joint pursuit.
Today, I would like to especially highlight three directions of future-oriented cooperation that will serve as the basis for the development of bilateral ties.
First, we should secure future growth engines in response to the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Our two countries have signed today a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Our two countries have pledged to cooperate, for instance, on joint research and development in smart manufacturing, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, robotics and other high-tech industries.
If Singapore's innovation capabilities and capital are combined with Korea's world-class information and communications technology, it will create an enormous synergy.
For the advancement of high-tech industries, it is necessary to expand the participation of SMEs and boost innovative startups.
Singapore is now pushing ahead with the One-North Project, aimed at intensively nurturing major growth engines such as biotechnology, ICT and media industries by bringing them together. The country is also promoting startups by implementing a systematic policy based on the concept of the Living Lab. Likewise, Korea is redoubling its efforts to create an innovative ecosystem that fosters new industries by rendering support for launching innovative enterprises.
The memorandum of understanding signed today on cooperation between the SMEs and startups of both countries will greatly help them to identify together opportunities for innovation in various fields.
Second, we should ensure that economic cooperation brings substantive benefits to people’s lives.
When Prime Minister Lee announced the Smart Nation initiative four years ago, he underscored that he would make his country a place that gives everyone exciting opportunities where people lead lives with a sense of fulfillment. This ambition is very nice and grand.
The people-centered economy that I pursue aims at improving the life of each and every individual. I believe the directions at which the two countries are aiming coincide. I agree with the value sought by the Smart Nation initiative, and I hope that we will be able to materialize that vision together.
The Smart City project that Korea is pursuing is an aggregate of advanced technologies such as information and communication technology, artificial intelligence and environmentally friendly energy. It is designed to add more convenience to the lives of the people. I hope that Korea’s efforts will be able to contribute to Singapore’s materialization of the Smart Nation initiative. In addition, Korea, as a future partner of ASEAN, will actively contribute to the ASEAN Smart Cities Network, a project led by Singapore.
Building upon the MOU on environmental cooperation signed today, the making of a green country can be achieved together. Eco-friendly energy can be introduced stably at a low cost through cooperation on energy, and smart grid technology will make it possible to improve energy efficiency.
Third, the system of free and fair trade needs to be continued and expanded.
The foundation of the two countries’ economic growth is free trade and an open-door policy. Both Singapore and Korea, which are open and pursue free trade, need to combine our strengths to prevent the spread of protectionism.
Today, our two countries agreed to cooperate to ensure that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership can be concluded within this year. What is most important in the RCEP negotiations is not the level of openness but the timing. If a deal is reached at the earliest possible date, it will be able to turn the tide of the current global trend where protectionism is spreading.
When the ongoing negotiations to amend the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement between Korea and Singapore are finalized, the Agreement will help boost investments between the two nations. In that way, I hope that bilateral trade, currently at US$20 billion, and mutual investment will be further expanded.
Distinguished business leaders,
Our two countries’ economic development closely watched by the world is the result of passion and sweat of business leaders like you. The year 2020 is the 45th anniversary of the establishment of the two countries’ diplomatic ties. You, the business leaders, have created the history of remarkable bilateral exchanges and cooperation.
Our two countries have supported each other through mutual exchanges in all areas, including the economy, security and culture, and have become even better friends following the North Korea-U.S. summit held here.
If the complete denuclearization is achieved and peace is established on the Korean Peninsula, a new horizon in bilateral economic cooperation will emerge, creating many more opportunities.
As in the Singaporean saying, “you can't clap with one hand only,” if we join hands, not only the Korean Peninsula but also ASEAN will be able to enjoy peace and prosperity.
Let us learn from each other and walk toward the future.
Majulah Singapura. Thank you very much.