DPM Lawrence Wong at the Opening of Temasek's Paris Office

Speech by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong at the opening of Temasek's Paris office on 10 April 2024. DPM Wong is on an official visit to Paris, France from 10 to 13 April 2024.

Chairman, and CEO of Temasek Holdings
Minister Le Maire
Minister Darmanin
Excellencies and Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen


It is always good to be back in the beautiful city of Paris. I would like to think that we brought some warm Singapore weather with us, but I do not think that we can claim credit for that.

We are delighted to be here for the opening of this new Temasek office in Paris. It is more than just an event for the opening. As Chairman said just now, it is special because it is Temasek’s 50th anniversary this year. Fifty years may not seem like a very long time for organisations and institutions in France, where you count your milestones in centuries. But for a country like Singapore, where we are just shy of our 60th year of independence, it is a major milestone, especially given the unique circumstances of our nation.

After all, Singapore has no natural resources; we are very small. Our land was just about the size of Lake Geneva when we started. Since then, we have grown a little bit through reclamation, but to give you a different reference point, we are still less than 1/10 the size of the island of Corsica. We are very small. And we have learned from the outset that we have to count on our own wits, and our own collective will to survive to make a living.

Out of this crucible, as we became independent, we built institutions like Temasek; institutions which epitomise the Singaporean ethos of working hard, striving for excellence, and always building for the future. So tonight's event is more than just about a new office. It is also about marking a milestone for Temasek, its development and growth as a global equities investment company. For that, we want to acknowledge the contributions of Temasek’s board members, management and staff and all the many partners who are here. Thank you very much for your contributions and congratulations to all of you. Thank you!

Seizing Opportunities in a Changing World

We are very happy that we are able to mark tonight's event in such a venue. It is a beautiful location, originally built for the 1900 Exposition Universelle – the world fair that brought together nations across the world to exchange ideas and technology, arts and culture. This could not be a more fitting location for our times. Because now, more than ever, we must find ways to strengthen connections between different countries and different regions of the world.

After the end of the Cold War, we have enjoyed three decades of global peace and stability. Unfortunately, that era is over. Great power politics is back and we are now in an era of competition and conflict where there is no turning back. We have conflicts raging in Europe, Middle East, and Africa. We have more protectionism, more economic fragmentation across the entire global economy, because countries everywhere are focussing more emphasis on national security and resilience, rather than economic efficiency and win-win cooperation.

We wish all these were not happening and we must certainly work hard to shape better global outcomes. But we also have to be realistic because great catastrophes often seem unthinkable, until they actually happen. Things may well get worse before they get better.

But despite the challenges, there are still opportunities to be seized around the world. We see this in Europe, which is a key part of the global economy and the world’s largest trading bloc, with many French and European companies at the forefront of innovation. We see this in regions like the Middle East and Africa, where there are countries growing steadily and making good progress in closing development gaps, with their young and growing populations all eager to move ahead in life.

And of course, in Asia, the growth story continues. China remains a key part of this story given its size and economic weight and its strengths in engineering and manufacturing. But there are other parts of Asia that are also growing and becoming more important in economic and business terms. India, for example, is rapidly emerging as a powerhouse with vast potential to be unlocked.

The economies of Southeast Asia or ASEAN are also important in our own right. We have a combined population of more than 670 million, a dynamic, young and educated workforce, and a sizable and growing middle class. There is a diverse range of economies in ASEAN with countries at different stages of development. We operate in a looser configuration compared to the EU, with your economic and monetary union. But we are taking steps to enhance our integration so that ASEAN as a whole can offer more opportunities for businesses and investors too.

Singapore is in Southeast Asia. We are at the heart of this dynamic Asian story. Our value proposition is to be a connector and a hub for Asia to the world and for the world to Asia. We believe this role becomes more important in an increasingly fragmented world. That is why we are redoubling our efforts to deepen cooperation with like-minded partners like France.

Singapore-France Bilateral Relationship

Between our two countries, the relationship is comprehensive, multi-faceted and deepening with each passing year, covering many areas such as energy, defence, innovation, culture, and education, and deepens with each passing year. It is a relationship that has been built not just from the top down, but also from the bottom up because our people-to-people ties are very strong.

France is already a very popular holiday destination for Singaporeans. I mean, we have a very small population but during holiday season, anywhere you go in Paris, you can easily pick out a Singaporean. You can tell us apart by the way we speak, by the way we dress. Many Singaporeans are also fans of French culture, be it your movies, culinary delights, your food, your wine, your fashion. You name it, any major French brand is available and popular in Singapore.

The cooperation goes to areas that are not so visible to the public eye as well. For example, in urban infrastructure, we have trains from Alstom, planes from Airbus, we have buildings built by Dragages or other French contractors. So there is a little bit of France everywhere you go in Singapore.

We also have cooperation, very substantial links in defence, and security. In more recent years, we are exploring opportunities in the digital and green economies and working together in science and technology, including in areas like quantum technology, artificial intelligence and sustainable energy solutions.

France is a major civilisational force in the world, and you have many preoccupations to deal with in Europe. But in the coming years, Asia is bound to become more important to France. Singapore can serve as a key node for France to connect to Asia, and we look forward to our relationship growing across all dimensions. In fact, next year marks the 60th anniversary of our diplomatic ties. We want to add more strength and substance to our happy relationship and work closely together as reliable and trusted partners.


So tonight is really a night of multiple celebrations. It is Temasek’s new office in Paris, Temasek’s 50th anniversary, but also the strategic partnership between Singapore and France which is entering its 60th year yet.

There is much more that we can do together. I look forward to the next chapter of our journey together, as partners and friends. Thank you very much and enjoy the rest of the evening.

Foreign affairs