Singapore signs slew of deals with Vietnam

March 23, 2017 | 04:17 pm GMT+7
Singapore signs slew of deals with Vietnam
Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is welcome by Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Hanoi, Vietnam March 23, 2017. Photo by Reuters/Kham

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsieng Long seems to have a knack of brokering deals in Vietnam.

Vietnam and Singapore signed six business memorandums of understanding on Thursday as part of Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsieng Long's four-day visit to Vietnam. 

The deals, which were witnessed by Lee and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, include industrial parks to be developed by Singapore's Sembcorp in central Vietnam, and initial approval for Singapore’s United Overseas Bank Ltd (UOB) to open a wholly foreign-owned bank in Vietnam. Other sectors touched by the memorandums include transport, education and trade.

"I'm very glad to be back in Vietnam after more than three years in order to take our relationship another step forward," Lee told reporters at a joint press briefing with Phuc in Hanoi.

Singapore is Vietnam's third largest foreign investor. The country hopes to step up investments in Vietnam and remain in its top four investors in 2017. 

"With more intensive business links and with more tourism between both sides, travel between Vietnam and Singapore has increased substantially," Lee added.

PM Phuc said both parties had discussed important details to strengthen their strategic partnership.

Relations between the two countries were upgraded to a strategic partnership in 2013, opening up new avenues of cooperation in areas such as defense, education and finance. The strategic partnership agreement was concluded during PM Lee's last official visit to Vietnam in September 2013.

Regional and security issues were also discussed during the meeting. Both countries agreed that issues in the East Sea, internationally known as South China Sea, should be resolved "in accordance with international law," Lee said.

Lee started his four-day visit to Vietnam on March 21. 

To start this trip, Lee visited Ho Chi Minh City where he met with the city’s People's Committee Chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong. During their meeting, Phong urged Singapore to help Vietnam develop clean industrial food processing zones, operate future metro lines and support human resources training.

PM Lee will finish his trip with a visit to the central city of Da Nang.