Opening Remarks for the 42nd Singapore Lecture by DPM Teo Chee Hean on 13 July 2018, at Orchard Hotel, Singapore. DPM Teo delivered these remarks before President of the Republic of Korea Moon Jae-in delivered the 42nd Singapore Lecture on “ROK and ASEAN: Partners for Achieving Peace and Co-prosperity in East Asia”.
His Excellency Moon Jae-in, President of the Republic of Korea,
Ladies and gentlemen,
A very warm welcome to the 42nd Singapore Lecture.
We are privileged to have His Excellency Moon Jae-in, President of the Republic of Korea, with us this morning. Your Excellency, thank you very much for agreeing to deliver the Singapore Lecture during your first State Visit to Singapore.
The Republic of Korea, or the ROK, is an advanced country with a dynamic economy. It is the world’s 11th largest economy, and the fourth largest in Asia. It is a global leader in the use of technology, including in telecommunications and transport. It is also one of the most highly-educated countries in the world.
The ROK, like Singapore, is dependent on foreign trade. In 2017, the ROK was the sixth-largest exporter in the world. Our two countries are strong advocates of free trade, and share a common vision for an open and rules-based multilateral trading system linking our region and the world.
Singapore-ROK relations are warm and underpinned by robust economic ties. Singapore and the ROK are among each other’s top ten trade partners. Our bilateral trade amounted to US$33.5 billion in 2017. Singapore was the ROK’s fourth-largest foreign investor last year, while many Korean companies also have a strong presence in Singapore.
We continue to strengthen our bilateral relations. President Moon and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong witnessed the exchange of six MOUs yesterday - on the environment, free trade, smart grids, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, small and medium enterprises, and investments. These MOUs build upon the foundations of our existing economic cooperation, established by the Korean-Singapore Free Trade Agreement which came into force more than a decade ago in 2006.
Our bilateral exchanges are also frequent. I personally had good discussions on regional and global security developments with ROK Defence Minister Song Young-moo just last month when he was in Singapore for the Shangri-la Dialogue. I also congratulated Seoul Mayor Park Won-Soon when he was in Singapore earlier this week to receive the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize awarded to Seoul.
The economic links between ASEAN and the ROK are strong and substantive. Two-way trade in 2016 was US$118.8 billion, making ASEAN the second-largest trading partner of the ROK. The ROK is also ASEAN’s fifth-largest trading partner.
ASEAN is embracing Korean technology. For example, Samsung Electronics held the top market share for smart phone companies in Southeast Asia in 2016 and 2017. We also welcome the ROK’s participation in ASEAN’s efforts to build a Smart Cities Network. ROK Minister of Environment Dr Kim Eunkyung also participated in the Expanded Special ASEAN Meeting on Climate Action three days ago.
We welcome the ROK’s interest to elevate relations with ASEAN through its New Southern Policy. The ROK can work with ASEAN to enhance collaboration, for instance, by strengthening the ASEAN-Korea Free Trade Area and pushing for progress on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
Beside trade links, we can also strengthen people-to-people ties between the ROK and ASEAN. In 2016, nearly 6 million Koreans visited ASEAN and 2.2 million ASEAN citizens visited the ROK. Korea’s Hallyu has swept the region, with Korean drama, K-pop and food gaining popularity. The ASEAN-ROK Air Services Agreement, when completed, will facilitate even greater connectivity and interactions between the people of Southeast Asia and the ROK. I am confident that the ROK’s strong ties with Singapore and ASEAN will continue to further deepen under the leadership of President Moon.
President Moon, our speaker this morning, has had a distinguished career. He began his career as a human rights lawyer, and subsequently served as Senior Secretary for Civil Affairs, and later Chief of Staff to former President Roh Moo-hyun and before that, he had served in the Republic of Korea Armed Forces. As a lawyer, he fought for the rights of students and low-wage workers. As Chief of Staff, he was heavily involved in the 2007 Inter-Korean Summit between President Roh and former DPRK leader Kim Jong-il, which led to the Declaration for Advancing Inter-Korean Relations and Peace and Prosperity. President Moon’s dedication and pursuit of peace has been well-received by the Korean people.
President Moon’s speech today is very timely. The situation on the Korean Peninsula is of global concern and to all of us in the region. There have been significant developments since the beginning of this year. President Moon, in particular, has played a key role to create the conditions for a return to dialogue, beginning with the hosting of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and the two inter-Korean summits. Complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula will take time. It is therefore important for all stakeholders to continue to work together, and support on-going efforts to achieve lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.
We are distinctly privileged to have President Moon address us this morning. It is now my pleasure to invite His Excellency President Moon Jae-in to deliver the 42nd Singapore Lecture, on “ROK and ASEAN: Partners for Achieving Peace and Co-prosperity in East Asia”.
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