DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam at the 40th Singapore Lecture

SM Tharman Shanmugaratnam | 27 March 2017

Opening remarks by DPM and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, at the 40th Singapore Lecture on 27 March 2017.


His Excellency François Hollande
President of the French Republic
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

A very good afternoon to all. We are extremely honoured to have French President François Hollande deliver the 40th Singapore Lecture today.

President Hollande’s visit is the first State Visit here by a French President, and marks a significant milestone in our bilateral relations. President Hollande is also the third French leader to deliver the Singapore Lecture. Former French President Giscard D’Estaing delivered the 3rd Singapore Lecture in 1982, and former Prime Minister Raymond Barre delivered the 7th Singapore Lecture in 1986.

We are privileged that with President Hollande’s lecture today, we are able to carry on a tradition which reflects the importance that both countries place on our bilateral relations.

Singapore and France share a common vision of a world that embraces openness, multilateralism, globalisation and the rule of law.

DPM Tharman

President Hollande has had an outstanding career. Like many of his predecessors, he was a graduate of the prestigious École Nationale d’Administration.  He joined the Socialist Party in 1972, and began his political career as the Special Advisor for economic matters to President François Mitterand in 1981.  President Hollande was first elected as the Municipal Counsellor for Ussel, before going on to win a National Assembly seat in 1988.  He was appointed President of the Socialist Party in 2008, and subsequently elected President of the French Republic in May 2012. 

Singapore-France relations have strengthened under President Hollande’s government. Today, France is Singapore’s 2nd largest trading partner in the EU. French enterprises continue to see Singapore as a natural and competitive gateway to Asian markets, with more than 1,800 French firms already established here. The last five years have also been marked by an exceptionally high number of high-level visits between our two countries, including the exchange of visits by our Prime Ministers in 2012 and 2013, as well as President Tony Tan’s State Visit to France in 2015.

A highlight of our bilateral relationship under President Hollande’s leadership was the establishment of a Strategic Partnership in October 2012. The Partnership is a reflection of our common outlook on the challenges and opportunities we face, and deepened cooperation in areas such as defence, trade and investment, education and culture, renewable energies and nuclear safety.

To mark the 5th anniversary of our Strategic Partnership, our two countries have released a Joint Declaration of Innovation which will pave the way for greater collaborations in industries of the future including space technology, smart cities planning, FinTech and health and biomedical sciences.

Singapore and France share a common vision of a world that embraces openness, multilateralism, globalisation and the rule of law. This is especially important when there is a rising mood to turn inwards in some parts of the world. We all share common challenges, but the solutions are not to be found from turning inwards.

France has offered steadfast support for the EU-Singapore FTA, which will bring tangible benefits for both sides, and help catalyse the deepening of linkages between two important regions of the world: Europe and Asia. We also look forward to the ASEAN-EU Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement which will improve our connectivity and people-to-people ties.

How can Singapore and France continue to strengthen our Strategic Partnership? What can we do in the face of disruptive technologies, increasing populism and changing geopolitics? These are some of the questions that President Hollande will address in his speech, titled “France and Singapore, Strategic Partners in a Fast-Changing World”. 

Without further ado, let me invite President Hollande to deliver the 40th Singapore Lecture. 

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