(From left) Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong, DPM Lawrence Wong, Indian PM Narendra Modi and Indian finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman. PHOTO: PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE
NEW DELHI, 20 Sep (The Straits Times) – Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed new areas of cooperation such as clean energy and fintech during a meeting in Indian capital city New Delhi on Monday.
Mr Modi was also briefed about the outcomes of the inaugural session of the India-Singapore Ministerial Roundtable (ISMR), which was held last Saturday.
He conveyed his good wishes for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the people of Singapore, and expressed his hope that initiatives such as the ISMR “would help further strengthen the bilateral relations between the two countries”.
Mr Wong, who is also Finance Minister, is on a five-day visit to India aimed at expanding cooperation between the two countries.
“We had excellent discussions on new areas of cooperation such as green hydrogen, solar energy, fintech, as well as data links,” said Mr Wong on Facebook following Monday’s meeting, which was also attended by Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong and Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs of India Nirmala Sitharaman.
“India is an important strategic partner of Singapore across many sectors. I am glad that the pace of bilateral engagements has picked up substantially as the pandemic subsides,” he added.
He also said he looked forward to restarting the Singapore-India Hackathon, which was disrupted by Covid-19, “to build bridges between our young talents”.
The hackathon was held in 2018 and then in 2019 with mixed teams of university students from both countries racing to create software solutions to real-life problems in areas such as education and clean energy.
India and Singapore share close economic and political ties, with regular high-level political exchanges that have picked up again with an exchange of visits in recent months.
Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan was in India for the Special Asean-India Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in June, while Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who is also Coordinating Minister for Social Policies, visited India in July.
The two sides held the 16th Foreign Office Consultations in Singapore in August.
Mr Wong, Dr Balakrishnan, Mr Gan, and Minister for Transport and Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations S. Iswaran formed the Singapore ministerial delegation at Saturday’s ISMR.
The Indian side included Ms Sitharaman, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal.
Economic ties between the two countries have been guided by the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, which was signed in 2005.
In 2021, annual bilateral trade in goods stood at $26.8 billion. Singapore was the top source of foreign direct investment into India in the financial year 2021-22, accounting for 27 per cent of the country’s record-high US$83.5 billion (S$117.6 billion) inflow.
During his ongoing visit to India, Mr Wong met both federal and state leaders.
On Sunday, he met Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel.
In a speech in Gujarat state on Sunday, Mr Wong highlighted the close ties between the two countries and the potential of cooperation in newer emerging areas such as fintech amid India’s growing digital economy.
“Singapore has long believed in the potential and promise of India,” he said on Sunday
“That is why we have been investing in India. Over the last 20 years, our investments in India have grown by about 20 times,” he said.
Author: Nirmala Ganapathy, India Bureau Chief