Singapore, Philippines see stronger relations as Asean works towards economic integration: Lim Hng Kiang

Singapore and the Philippines are enjoying a close bilateral relationship, which will be a key driver for the region to work towards closer economic integration, says Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang. -- PHOTO: BLOOMBERG
Singapore and the Philippines are enjoying a close bilateral relationship, which will be a key driver for the region to work towards closer economic integration, says Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang. -- PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

SINGAPORE - Singapore and the Philippines are enjoying a close bilateral relationship, which will be a key driver for the region to work towards closer economic integration, Minister for Trade and Industry Mr Lim Hng Kiang said.

In a speech at the Philippines-Singapore Business Council Forum on Wednesday (Feb 4), Mr Lim noted that bilateral trade between the two Asean countries rose 2 per cent in 2014 to hit $15 billion, driven by increasing interest in the Philippines' economic resurgence in recent years.

"Singapore and the Philippines are also working closely on advancing regional economic integration through initiatives such as the Asean Economic Community (AEC), the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec)," Mr Lim added.

Set to be realized by the end of this year, the AEC is a key agenda for the regional bloc to forge unprecedented economic integration and unlock the potential of a market that is set to grow its combined economy by 5.4 per cent annually between 2014 and 2018.

Meanwhile, the Philippines - which will be chairing Apec this year - will also play a key role in helping to build economic linkages in Asia Pacific.

"The Philippines will be leading Apec on initiatives relating to SMEs and economic resilience," said Mr Lim.

"These issues are pertinent to the business community. We would like to see progress at Apec towards realising the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP), an important initiative aimed at deepening regional economic integration."