India and Singapore agreed to deepen the bilateral economic ties

Vastavam web: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong today agreed to deepen the bilateral economic ties and build on defence cooperation as the two sides signed eight agreements including one on logistics cooperation between their navies.The two leaders, who held wide-ranging discussions on regional and global issues of mutual interests, also called for a peaceful, open, and friendly maritime environment in the Indo-Pacific region.

Prime Minister Modi said that the strategic partnership between India and Singapore has stood the test of time in the real sense.Since CECA was signed in 2004, India-Singapore bilateral trade more than doubled from SGD12 billion (USD 8.97 billions) to SGD 25 billion (USD 18.69 billion). Singapore was the second largest investor in India in FY-2016.Modi hailed the close defence cooperation between the two countries and welcomed the completion of the logistics agreement between the two navies.

“In the coming times, dealing with cyber security and extremism and terrorism will be important areas of our cooperation,” the prime minister said.”We both have reaffirmed our views on maritime security and have shown our commitment to a ‘Rules Based’ order…We also agreed for a peaceful, open, and friendly maritime environment in the Indo-Pacific region,” Modi said.China is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas. Beijing has also made substantial progress in militarising its manmade islands in the past few years, which it says it has the right to defend.

China claims sovereignty over all of the South China Sea. But Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims. In the East China Sea, Beijing has territorial disputes with Japan.”Our defence ties have strengthened, our navies have signed an agreement today on logistics cooperation and will also celebrate 25th anniversary of annual Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercise (SIMBEX) this year,” Lee said.

He said India and Singapore are collaborating on technology, smart cities and skills development, both at the national and the state level.Lee pointed out that two projects, that arose from Prime Minister Modi’s 2015 visit to the city-state, have been completed.”Andhra Pradesh Amaravati city project is progressing well with Singapore Consortium. We also recently launched Maharashtra-Singapore joint committee, to explore economic cooperation including planning and development of airport in Pune,” he said.Modi said Singapore has always been a source of foreign direct investment for India and also investments in foreign countries. It has also been a favourite destination for Indian investments abroad, he added.

“I am happy to note that Indian companies use Singapore as a spring board for not only this country but for the entire ASEAN region. For Singaporean companies, as India develops, opportunities are coming up,” he said.Recalling his meeting with CEOs yesterday, Modi said he was happy to see that top executives of many important companies looking at India with confidence.Modi said the air traffic between India and Singapore is growing rapidly and both countries will enter into a new ‘Air Service Agreement’ soon.Lee said Indian tourists will be able to use their RuPay cards for electronic payments at Changi airport and selected operators across Singapore.

He said he looked forward to welcoming Modi back to Singapore in November for the East Asia Summit, and “to continue working with him to further deepen our cooperation bilaterally and regionally”.Modi, who arrived here yesterday on the last leg of his three-nation visit, earlier made a courtesy call on President Halimah Yacob after a welcome ceremony at the Istana where he was given a guard of honour.