Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will pay an official visit to Vietnam from Sept. 11-13 at the invitation of his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung.

During the visit, the second since PM Lee took office in 2004, the two sides will officially announce the establishment of their strategic partnership.

The visit also affirms Singapore’s appreciation and desire to strengthen and consolidate its multifaceted cooperation with Vietnam.

Vietnam and Singapore established their diplomatic ties on August 1, 1973.

Their bilateral relations have developed rapidly since Vietnam became a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1995.

Singapore attaches importance to its ties with Vietnam, considering it one of Singapore’s major trade and investment markets in Southeast Asia.

The two countries’ leaders often exchange high-ranking visits and meetings, including President Truong Tan Sang’s state visit in September 2011 and Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong’s trip to the country in September 2012, during which the two sides issued a joint statement affirming to elevate their relations to a strategic partnership level in 2013.

Singapore has always been one of Vietnam’s leading trade and investment partners.

Two-way trade last year surpassed 9 billion USD and reached 3.5 billion USD in the first five months of this year.

Vietnam imports petrol, plastic, metal, electronic products, machinery and chemicals from Singapore while exporting seafood, coffee, crude oil, precious stones and electronic goods to the country.

Singaporean direct investment to Vietnam continues to rise. By July 2013, Singapore had nearly 1,800 projects worth over 28 billion USD in property and construction, processing and manufacturing industries in Vietnam. These projects have proved their effectiveness, contributing remarkably to Vietnam’s economy.

Regarding defence-security, the two countries’ Defence Ministries have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on defence cooperation. The Vietnamese Public Security Ministry and the Singaporean Ministry of Home Affairs have also inked a cooperation MoU, under which the two ministries hold meetings at a standing deputy ministerial level and maintain the annual exchange of high-ranking delegations.

Every year, the Singaporean Government grants about 15 scholarships for Vietnamese first- and second-year students to pursue tertiary education in Singapore.

The Ministers of Justice of the two countries have signed an MoU on legal and judicial cooperation. To realise the agreement, the ministries have organised two joint committee meetings on legal and judicial cooperation in Hanoi and Singapore.

In culture, the two countries have conducted cooperative activities within the framework of the ASEAN Culture and Information Committee. In September 2011, Vietnam built a President Ho Chi Minh statue at the Asia Civilisations Museum, next to a memorial stele marking 75 years since he set foot in Singapore.

The two sides have established the Vietnam-Singapore Cooperation Committee and signed a Vietnam-Singapore Connectivity Framework Agreement.

The two Foreign Ministries have held regular political consultation meetings at a deputy foreign ministerial level which has helped increase mutual trust and understanding, creating opportunities for both sides to exchange views on regional and international issues of common concern.-VNA