Hollande in S'pore for 2-day state visit

France's President Francois Hollande looks on during a summit of EU leaders to mark the 60th anniversary of the bloc's founding Treaty of Rome.
France's President Francois Hollande looks on during a summit of EU leaders to mark the 60th anniversary of the bloc's founding Treaty of Rome.PHOTO: AFP

First visit here by a sitting French president; he will focus on cooperation in innovation

French President Francois Hollande arrives in Singapore today for a two-day state visit, the first by a sitting president of France.

He will focus on strengthening bilateral cooperation in innovation, a priority area in the growth strategies of both countries, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in a statement yesterday.

Mr Hollande's trip reciprocates the state visit President Tony Tan Keng Yam made to France in 2015 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

It "will reaffirm the excellent and multifaceted relations between Singapore and France", said MFA.

The Singapore-French relationship was elevated to a strategic partnership in 2013. Last year, more than 100,000 Singaporean tourists visited France, while more than 150,000 French tourists came to Singapore.

Mr Hollande will receive an official welcome at the Istana. He will then call on President Tan and be hosted to a state banquet tonight. Tomorrow, he will meet Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who will host him to lunch.

He will also deliver the 40th Singapore Lecture on how France and Singapore can be strategic partners in a fast-changing world. Mr Hollande and Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan will also launch a joint venture between French shipping giant CMA CGM and port operator PSA, to operate four mega container berths at Pasir Panjang Terminal.

France was Singapore's second-largest trading partner in the European Union last year, with bilateral trade valued at $16 billion. France is also Singapore's sixth-largest EU investor, with total foreign direct investment at about $14.8 billion as of the end of 2015.

Mr Hollande is also slated to speak at the Singapore-France Innovation Forum, where industry players from both countries will discuss issues such as smart cities, health, and financial technology.

Accompanying Mr Hollande are French Defence Minister Jean- Yves Le Drian, Minister of State for Development and Francophonie Jean-Marie Le Guen, Minister of State for Industry, Digital Sector and Innovation Christophe Sirugue, and senior officials and businessmen.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 26, 2017, with the headline 'Hollande in S'pore for 2-day state visit'. Print Edition | Subscribe