DPM Tharman’s opening remarks at the Singapore-France Innovation Forum on 27 March 2017.
Your Excellency, President François Hollande
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is my privilege to be here with President Hollande, and I am very pleased to join all of you at this Singapore-France Innovation Forum.
At a time when the world continues to face heightened uncertainty, and as technological disruptions threaten to upend a whole range of industries, it is tempting for nations to question the value of remaining open to the world.
This is not an option for Singapore. Like France, we remain committed to international cooperation and growing trade, investment, R&D, defence and educational relationships with other countries, so that we can tap on each other’s strengths to create a better future for our people.
Singapore and France exemplify this approach in our bilateral relationship. Our ties will receive an added boost when the European Union – Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA) comes into force. As the first FTA concluded between the EU and an ASEAN Member State, the EUSFTA is also a building block towards an eventual EU-ASEAN FTA.
Singapore and France also face several similar economic challenges. We want to accelerate innovation and productivity growth, as the basis for a broad-based increase in our citizens’ living standards.
The advanced world has been seeing several years of weak productivity growth. At the heart of the problem has been a widening gap between firms at the frontier of knowledge, productivity and new products, and the rest of the economy.
I think both France and Singapore recognise this problem. Our own national strategies aim to grow innovation in all its dimensions - in other words, to strengthen innovation at the frontiers of knowledge as well as to spread new ideas more quickly through the rest of our economies. Our cooperation with each other can enhance these national strategies, by encouraging partnerships between R&D scientists and leading firms, as well as spreading innovations quickly so that many more companies and people can ride on those innovations. Both dimensions are important. There is also much we can learn from each other in the field of skills development. Both France and Singapore have embarked on major programmes to encourage life-long learning among our people.
Singapore and France have indeed been deepening our partnership in research, industry collaborations and talent exchange.
We are glad that Singapore will soon be part of the “La French Tech” initiative, a worldwide network of French tech entrepreneurs, investors and executives which has been established in major international cities to facilitate innovative partnerships and the internationalization of French tech startups.
From what is already a strong base of partnership, there are emerging opportunities for us to deepen our collaboration. The Innovation Forum today will highlight four promising areas of cooperation – Aerospace, Smart Cities, Fintech and Health & Biomedical Sciences.
President Hollande has just spoken persuasively about what we can achieve in these emerging areas. These are win-win partnerships. Let me illustrate very briefly with respect to two of these areas.
Singapore and France have been building on our long-standing research partnership in Aerospace.
I warmly welcome France’s intention to establish the ASEAN chapter of France’s Club Santé in Singapore (an association of med-tech and biotech businesses), as His Excellency President Hollande has just announced. I am sure this will help foster greater collaboration between enterprises in both countries.
We just had a presentation by some of the partners in some of these areas, and it is clear it is win-win. It benefits the companies on both sides, it benefits the people working with the companies and it benefits the spread of knowledge between our economies. We are showing through our actions the benefits of collaboration, of staying open and taking advantage of each other’s strength to benefit the living standards of our people.
France and S'pore have embarked on major programmes to encourage life-long learning among our people. DPM Tharman
France and S'pore have embarked on major programmes to encourage life-long learning among our people.
More broadly, we look forward to our partnership moving to a new level in the 2018 Singapore-France Year of Innovation which His Excellency President Hollande has announced. I am confident that by marrying our strengths, Singapore and France can advance our common national goals of fostering innovation and spreading productivity growth, as the basis for broad-based prosperity.
The Innovation Forum today is an excellent platform to discuss and advance this collaboration. I am confident that the presence of key industry and research leaders will enable identification of concrete partnership opportunities, that will ultimately be to the mutual benefit of both our countries.
I wish all of you a fruitful forum.
Explore recent content
More from Notes
Explore related topics