Toast Speech by PM Lee Hsien Loong at the Official Lunch in honour of Vietnam Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on 9 February 2023.
Your Excellency Pham Minh Chinh, Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Ladies and gentlemen
May I bid a warm welcome to the Prime Minister, Madam Le Thi Bich Tran and the Vietnamese delegation. This is the Prime Minister’s first official visit to Singapore since he assumed office in 2021. But we are already familiar with each other, having met several times at ASEAN meetings, including in Phnom Penh and Washington D.C. last year, and in Jakarta in 2021.
The Prime Minister has also warmly received our President and Ministers when they visited Vietnam. I'm glad to have the opportunity to reciprocate the hospitality and friendship he has extended to Singapore and to our officials. This year is the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Vietnam, and the 10th year of our Strategic Partnership. These are significant milestones.
Our longstanding and deep bilateral partnership is anchored by strong political trust and understanding between our leaders. And particularly it has grown since the first visits by the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew to Vietnam in 1992 and the late General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Do Muoi to Singapore in 1993.
Economic cooperation is another key pillar of our bilateral relationship. Singapore has been Vietnam's top source of foreign investment for the last three years. This reflects our confidence in Vietnam, its economy and the opportunities it offers. Indeed, Vietnam bounced back from COVID-19 last year, growing by 8%, making it one of the world's fastest growing economies. I congratulate Prime Minister Chinh on Vietnam's remarkable economic recovery from the pandemic.
The Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Parks (VSIPs) are concrete symbols of our cooperation. Our VSIPs have grown tremendously in scale and in number since the first one in Binh Duong was launched in 1996. I recall attending the 10th anniversary of the Binh Duong VSIP in 2006.
Because that first VSIP was so successful, we decided then to launch VSIP Binh Duong II. And we didn't stop there. I've been to several of the other VSIPs including in Quang Ngai province and in Hai Phong, and we now have 12 VSIPs. I understand the Prime Minister launched Binh Duong III last March.
When the Prime Minister and I met in Washington, D.C. last May, we discussed expanding the VSIPs to more provinces. By the time we met again in Phnom Penh a few months later in November, a new one had been launched in Can Tho City! So today we have 12 all over Vietnam, and collectively they have attracted USD 17 billion in investments and created more than 300,000 jobs.
Our partnership goes beyond trade and investment. We also cooperate closely in human resource development. Vietnam is the top partner of our Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP). More than 20,000 Vietnamese officials have attended SCP courses since 1992. Both sides have learnt much from each other through these interactions.
There are many opportunities for our two countries to work together in new areas. E.g. in the digital economy, cybersecurity, in the renewable energy, carbon credits, and sustainable infrastructure. I'm pleased that we have concluded a series of agreements and bilateral frameworks today, and this includes the Green and Digital Economic Partnership MOU which we signed earlier.
Vietnam has vast potential for renewable energy. Singapore is keen to collaborate on renewable energy and carbon credits for the long term. This collaboration will strengthen energy security in Southeast Asia and help the region achieve our net-zero carbon emissions target by 2050.
Singapore and Vietnam share similar outlooks on many regional issues. We are committed to upholding ASEAN Centrality and unity, and deepening economic integration. ASEAN also plays an important role in promoting an open, inclusive and rules-based order, with all our Dialogue Partners. As close partners, Singapore and Vietnam look forward to the friendship growing stronger in the coming years.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen
May I now invite you to join me in a toast to: the continued good health and success of Prime Minister Chinh, Madam Tran and his delegation; to peace, progress and prosperity in Vietnam; and to the enduring friendship between our two countries.
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