Vladimir Putin met with Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong on the sidelines of the Russia-ASEAN summit.
Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong:Thank you for receiving me. We just spent three days in Moscow and we had a very good visit.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: It is a great pleasure to see you, Mr Prime Minister. I would like to thank you for your visit.
Let me start by saying that the relations between our countries are developing. We are very pleased to see this and will do all we can to continue developing these ties.
I would like to note that our mutual investment is increasing in volume. Russian investment in your economy now comes to $2.5 billion, while Singapore has invested up to $1 billion in Russia.
Of course, the establishment of a free trade zone between the Eurasian Economic Union and Singapore would give a boost to trade growth.
Vietnam was the first ASEAN country with which we signed an agreement of this kind. Many of our partners have shown interest in cooperation with the Eurasian Economic Union. We would be happy to examine such a possibility with Singapore as well.
We are very happy to see you. Once again, welcome.
Lee Hsien Loong: Thank you for receiving me. As you say, our relations are in good shape, our trade is growing, and we are expanding our cooperation in many other areas as well. Over the last few years, over the past ten years, our trade volume has almost quadrupled, which is not a bad performance. But the absolute level can still be improved much further. It’s not commensurate with the importance of Russia in the world community or with our bilateral relations, which is why we believe that a free trade agreement between Singapore and the Eurasian Union would be able to contribute to this objective.
The first step would be to have a feasibility study to find out if there would be value in this, and we hope that Russia would support us in initiating such a study in order to take the process another step forward.
Already, as you pointed out, we have investments in both directions, Russian companies in Singapore, and quite a few Singaporean companies have invested in Russia. In Singapore, you’ve got of course the oil companies like Lukoil and Gazprom, but also a very interesting range of other companies, including IT companies like Acronis, which has set up a research centre in Singapore and sports goods companies like Sportmaster, which has made Singapore its regional headquarters.
Into Russia, we have a range of companies, some in agriculture and commodities, others in food and beverages, and there are also companies which are in real estate and hotel development. So we can develop the relationship further and with an FTA I think we can not only increase the volume of exchanges but also diversify the relationship in many new areas.
We also have cultural cooperation. We’ve got a cultural troupe, which is here to perform at the culture ministers’ meeting, and I am told that they performed today and were well received. And we are looking forward to the construction of a Russian cultural centre in Singapore.
We also have cooperation in research and development. Our universities have signed an MOU with the Russian Academy of Sciences and we see many areas where we can work together.
Also, specifically in Moscow, because the mayor has got many ambitious plans for the development of Moscow, we believe that our companies may be able to help him and participate in this so that he can achieve his objectives, whether it’s in transportation or in urban planning or the master plan.
On a regional basis, we are very happy that Russia is engaging ASEAN and participating in many of ASEAN’s fora like the ASEAN regional forum and the ASEAN defence ministers’ meeting, and we also support Russia’s idea of studying the possibility of an ASEAN-Eurasian Union FTA.
So this 20th anniversary commemorative summit comes at a good time and I look forward to its success and its taking our relationship further forward.
Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister, I can see just how well you know the whole fabric of our bilateral relations. This is the best guarantee that everything we plan will be carried out.
I would like to thank you for your support for all of our plans and undertakings.