SINGAPORE – Singapore and South Korea signed on Thursday three key agreements to strengthen bilateral ties and economic cooperation in the areas of trade, industry and energy, according to a statement by Singapore’s trade ministry.
The agreements were inked in the presence of Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in, who arrived in the country on Wednesday for a three-day state visit that ends on Friday.
“Under the MOU on trade, both sides will launch a Korea-Singapore Free Trade Agreement implementation review. This MOU also reaffirms mutual commitment by both countries towards strengthening the ASEAN-Korea FTA, as well as working towards a substantive conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations by 2018,” the statement said.
Bilateral ties between Singapore and South Korea have been resting on strong trade links.
In 2017, the Republic of Korea was Singapore’s ninth-largest trading partner, with bilateral trade standing at S$45.4 billion ($3.3 billion), registering a year-on-year increase of 4.3%.
Singapore is South Korea’s 10th-largest trading partner, second-largest trading partner in ASEAN after Vietnam, and its fourth-largest investor in 2017 with $1.8 billion.
The city state is also an attractive market for South Korean companies as a gateway to Southeast Asia.
The agreements would offer “opportunities for big and small enterprises in both countries to expand into new markets, and jointly tackle cross-border projects through business alliances,” said a statement by Enterprise Singapore, a government agency championing enterprise development.
Moon had earlier met his Singaporean counterpart Halimah Yacob, who had praised the South Korean president’s efforts to improve his country’s diplomatic and economic relations with its Asian neighbors, including ASEAN countries.
Moon’s visit is the first state visit to Singapore by a South Korean president in 15 years.