Transcript of Remarks by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at Opening of Temasek Holdings Europe Office, 28 March 2014

28 March 2014

Mr Lim Boon Heng

Chairman of Temasek Holdings

Ms Ho Ching

CEO of Temasek Holdings

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen


I am very happy to be in London today to open Temasek’s Europe office.  This office reflects Temasek’s confidence in opportunities in Europe, as well as in Africa’s long term potential.  It will facilitate Temasek’s investments in these two continents.

Enhancing Singapore’s Ties with Europe and Africa

Temasek’s interests are part of Singapore’s broader relations with Europe and Africa. 


Europe is one of our biggest markets, and an important source of finance and technology for our economy.  The past few years have been difficult for Europe, and for Britain and London too.  But Eurozone countries have made progress stabilising their economies, and raising the Eurozone’s growth potential.  And despite the internal difficulties, many European companies are in fact global companies, and not only that, they are global leaders which are doing well, like Rolls-Royce, Shell, BMW and many others. 

Singapore is therefore deepening our economic ties with Europe.  We have negotiated the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA) and this is a win-win proposition.  Strategically, it shows that Europe remains open to the world.  And in concrete business terms, the FTA helps European companies use Singapore as the gateway to expand into Asia, and it allows Asian companies to use London as a base to venture into Europe. 

More than 10,000 European companies do business in Singapore and in Southeast Asia.  Trade between Singapore and Europe is going up rapidly, and in the last decade, more than 60%.  And this is not just with the old Europe, but also with new Europe, and eastern European countries feature strongly, because they are opening up to international trade. 

The EU-Singapore FTA has been negotiated and now awaits ratification.  This will require the support of the European Parliament and all 28 of its member countries.  So please, if I may ask you, lend your weight and your considerable persuasive powers to encourage all your governments and those of the countries which you are operating in, to support and to ratify the EU-Singapore FTA, because it is beneficial to both sides.


As for Africa, Africa is a large continent with rich natural resources, young populations, and tremendous potential.  Many African countries are doing very well – Botswana in southern Africa; Ghana in western Africa; Rwanda in eastern Africa, just to name a few. 

Singapore’s relations with Africa have been modest, but they are growing rapidly.  Trade over the last decade has tripled between Singapore and Africa, and is now over S$14b, which is £6b, per year.  We have opened trade offices in Africa.  For example, IE Singapore has offices in Johannesburg (South Africa) and Accra (Ghana).  And there are many opportunities there, because it is new ground for us, for the bold and enterprising.

This Europe office will help Temasek to invest in and prosper with the promising companies and economies in Europe and Africa.  And Temasek is following the footsteps of many adventurous and outward-looking Singapore firms who have growing presence in Europe and Africa.  For example, the Goodwood Group owns the Royal Garden Hotel where I am staying on this trip.  PSA operates ports in Belgium, Italy and Portugal.  And we have a company – Kheng Keng Automotive – that exports cars and auto products to Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Rwanda.  And Olam has many commodity supply chains in Africa. 

Building Ties with London and the UK

Temasek could have sited its European office in many cities, but London was the natural choice, because London is a global financial hub, with familiar investment rules and regulations, and a gateway to Europe and to Africa.  If you want to go to Africa from Singapore, one quite sensible way is to fly through London.  That’s the way the air links go and that gives London an advantage. 

But beyond that, Singapore’s ties with London, and more broadly with the United Kingdom, are long standing and substantial.  Singapore is Britain’s largest trading partner in Southeast Asia, while Britain is our 4th largest trading partner in the EU.  Three quarters of Singapore’s investments into the EU are in the UK, and there are more than 3,000 British companies in Singapore, serving Asia and the world.  Besides which, we are close partners in many other areas – in defence, in education, in the cultural field, in terms of people-to-people ties.  Therefore, tomorrow we are holding a Singapore Day at Victoria Park, and they tell me the weather will be as dry as today, but warmer.  We will continue to nurture these historical links, to bring our countries and cities closer together.

Temasek’s own relationship with UK goes back a very long way, in fact, to before Temasek itself was formed.  Several Temasek companies were built with British help in the early years of Singapore’s independence.  Sembawang Shipyards began as naval dockyards of the Royal Navy's Far East forces.  Keppel Shipyards grew from the old Harbour Board.  And both are now among the biggest and most sophisticated rig builders in the world. 

This is from Britain to Singapore, but increasingly, Singapore investments are flowing back to the UK.  ComfortDelGro operates buses and cabs here.  They gave me a briefing this morning.  They are very happy with the treatment they are getting here under the British regime, and I detected a hint of how they hope to be treated in Singapore.  Sembcorp invested £1bn in waste-to-energy facilities in the UK. 

So this Europe office of Temasek reflects this long history, as well as our confidence that Britain will offer many new opportunities for investments and collaboration


I am confident that this office will deepen Temasek’s engagement in Europe and Africa, will strengthen ties between Singapore and these continents, and will add to Singapore’s long and illustrious history of business and cooperation with London.

So I congratulate Temasek Holdings, and wish the Temasek Europe office every success.  Congratulations!

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