Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh (left) and Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan (Source: VNA)

Singapore (VNA) – Deputy Prime Minister cum Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh and Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan shared their positive evaluations of the growth of the Vietnam-Singapore strategic partnership during their talks in Singapore on July 31, as part of Minh’s ongoing visit to Singapore.

The two sides noted that along with close political relations, Vietnam and Singapore have organised regular delegation exchanges channelled through the Party, State, parliament, and people-to-people connection.

They agreed that Vietnam and Singapore share many common strategic interests and visions for security and development in each country, as well as important issues in the region.

The two sides will closely coordinate to fully and effectively implement high-level agreements, especially those reached during Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s visit to Singapore in April 2018. They will also continue to increase delegation exchanges, consultations, and experience sharing on policy planning, thus maintaining strong growth and better exploiting opportunities to elevate bilateral ties.

Minh and Balakrishnan concurred that the potential for both sides to further enhance two-way trade is high, as the countries are members of both regional free trade agreements and the new generation of trade connection mechanisms such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Minister Balakrishnan lauded Vietnam’s proposal to increase the sales of Vietnamese farm produce such as rice, coffee, pepper, and vegetables on the Singaporean market.

Minh said he highly values Singapore’s role as a leading investor and trade partner of Vietnam with over 2,000 projects worth 43 billion USD, including nine Vietnam -Singapore Industrial Parks (VSIP).

Balakrishnan highlighted that Singapore has been investing in Vietnam since the 1990s. He appreciated that Vietnam has created optimal conditions for Singaporean firms to operate in the country, promptly solving obstacles facing them and responding to their proposals.

[Photo: Deputy PM Pham Binh Minh on official visit to Singapore]

The two sides also agreed to promote collaboration in education and training, labour, tourism, culture, and people-to-people connections. Activities to celebrate the 45th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations, including the Vietnamese culture and food day, have helped enhance mutual understanding of each other’s nations.

Minh and Balakrishnan pledged that the two sides will continue to work closely at regional and international forums, especially within the ASEAN.

Minh said that Vietnam highly values the role of Singapore as the ASEAN Chair for 2018, vowing that it would support Singapore in implementing the targets set.

Regarding the East Sea issue, the two sides agreed that ASEAN should firmly uphold the common standpoint and agreed principles, while continuing to show the viewpoints in its documents.

All parties should ensure the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), including trust-building measures as well as regulations on restraint from actions that may complicate the situation or escalate disputes, they underlined.

Minh spoke highly of Singapore’s efforts in speeding up negotiations for a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC).

On the occasion, Minh and Balakrishnan signed a memorandum of understanding between the Vietnamese and Singaporean governments on operation principles of the Vietnam-Singapore Cooperation Centre.

The current Vietnam – Singapore Training Centre will be upgraded into the Vietnam-Singapore Cooperation Centre and the deal will help create the legal framework for the expansion of its operation, from organising short-term training courses for the public sector to other areas such as approving development and urban planning solutions, development consultations, and technical and vocational training. The centre will also help Vietnam in food quarantine, agro-fisheries, cyber security, and community development projects.

The same day, Minh paid a courtesy call to Singaporean President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Minh, his spouse and the Vietnamese delegation also laid flowers at the President Ho Chi Minh statue in the Asian Civilisations Museum. –VNA