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Vietnamese in Singapore: Strong motivation for bilateral relations
Minh Nguyen 17:14, 2023/02/09
The Vietnamese community in Singapore, with young intellectuals, scholars, Ph.D. candidates, and students, is expected to make a bilateral cooperation role model.

The Vietnamese community in Singapore, including businesses, is expected to contribute greatly to the enhanced relations between Vietnam and Singapore, mostly economic ties. 

Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and his spouse Le Thi Bich Tran (second from right), and Vietnamese people in Singapore. Photos on Feb 8: Nhat Bac/VGP  

The idea was shared by Vietnamese intellectuals and businesses working in Singapore during the ongoing visit paid by Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh.

“The Vietnamese community in Singapore, including businesses, has high hopes that the visit will lay the groundwork for continued relations between the two nations over the next 10 to 50 years. In the midst of global fluctuations, the partnership is anticipated to become a role model with strategic trust,” said Associate Prof. Dr. Vu Minh Khuong, a Vietnamese lecturer at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, a postgraduate school of the National University of Singapore.

Dr. Khuong said at a meeting between PM Chinh and the Vietnamese people and diplomats in Singapore during his three-day visit from February 8-11, the first of a Vietnamese PM to Singapore in the past five years. The visit coincided with the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations and the 10th anniversary of the Vietnam-Singapore Strategic Partnership.

Dr. Khuong is among the Vietnamese residents in Singapore, who expressed their hope that relations with Singapore would improve further and recommended a host of measures to boost the partnership and contribute more to the home country.

Among the recommendations, some focus on teaching the Vietnamese language in the community, promoting the role of Vietnamese intellectuals in further bridging bilateral ties, and issues regarding labor mobility between the two countries.  

Associate Prof. Dr. Vu Minh Khuong, a Vietnamese lecturer at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. 

 Expectations for Vietnam-Singapore role model

There are about 10,000 Vietnamese experts and intellectuals living in Singapore, including scholars, PhD candidates, and students. The community has been reaffirming its position in the host nation while also participating in numerous initiatives and community development engagements. One such initiative was the Vietnamese Journey group, which Assoc. Prof. Dr. Vu Minh Khuong represented, bringing together professors and thinkers from renowned universities in Singapore to seek out additional contributions to Vietnam.

Meanwhile, Vietnamese firms are performing well in Singapore, like Vietnam National Petroleum Group (Petrolimex) with 2022 revenues of US$3.6 billion, FPT – the leading private IT firm in Vietnam, Vietcombank – one of four largest state-owned banks (Big 4), Saigon Coop – partner of Singapore’s largest supermarket chain Fair Price. So far, Saigon Coop and other Vietnamese suppliers sell some 650 items in Singapore’s supermarket networks.

Vietnamese Ambassador to Singapore Mai Phuoc Dung said the embassy has been promoting trade connectivity and the import of Vietnamese products, mainly farm produce, to Singapore.

During PM Chinh’s visit, the two countries are expected to establish the “Vietnam-Singapore Green and Digital Economy Partnership”. Dr. Khuong said that Singapore has only established this relationship with a few selective partners with great potential.

The sectors of the partnership will include digital economy, renewable energy, carbon credits, green financing, cybersecurity, and sustainable infrastructure, said Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan in an interview with the Vietnam News Agency on the eve of Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh’s visit.

He said the need to accelerate cooperation in the digital economy is a “priority” for both countries, and this encompasses many new areas such as cybersecurity, cross-border data flows, smart cities, innovation, artificial intelligence, and digital payments.

Balakrishnan also noted that Singapore is keen to work with Vietnam in renewable energy, carbon credits, and sustainable infrastructure, with the “ambitious” goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 set by both.

Giving his take on the state of bilateral relations, Balakrishnan described the two ASEAN member states as “long-standing friends and close partners.”

 PM Chinh highly appreciates the contributions of the Vietnamese community in Singapore.  

Speaking at the meeting with the Vietnamese community, PM Chinh highly appreciated their contributions to the nation and their future links for the Vietnam - Singapore relationship.

He said Vietnam-Singapore relations are growing across all sectors with Singapore being Vietnam’s biggest ASEAN investor and the second globally with more than 3,000 projects involving a registered investment of $70.4 billion. In 2022, Singapore topped the list of investors in Vietnam pouring $6.64 billion of foreign direct investment (FDI) into Vietnam.

Bilateral trade between Singapore and Vietnam has grown steadily over the past decade. In 2022, two-way trade reached $23.6 billion, up 17% on year.

PM Chinh said he and his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong, whom he met four times since April 2021, will discuss specific measures for better political trust and stronger Strategic Partnership through expanding key pillars, especially the economic one.

Accordingly, the two sides will expand the Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Parks (VSIP) to attract investments and create more jobs. In addition, they will boost cooperation in new fields like innovation, digital economy, digitalization, and green economy.

So far, the 12 VSIPs across Vietnam have attracted $17 billion in investments and created over 300,000 jobs.

Balakrishnan described the VSIP as an “enduring icon” of the bilateral partnership that was created through the close friendship and frequent consultations between Vietnamese late Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet and Singapore’s late founding PM Lee Kuan Yew.

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