Singapore, Vietnam to work on digital economy agreements

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan’s bilateral meeting with Mr Bui Thanh Son on June 21, 2021. PHOTO: MFA

SINGAPORE - Singapore and Vietnam have agreed to accelerate the setting up of joint working groups to develop bilateral agreements on digital economy.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan met with his Vietnamese counterpart Bui Thanh Son on Monday (June 21) and both ministers agreed on mutual recognition of health certificates to facilitate the safe resumption of travel between the two countries.

Dr Balakrishnan is on an official visit to Vietnam at the invitation of Mr Son. This is the first time a Singapore minister has visited Vietnam since the Covid-19 pandemic began. Dr Balakrishnan will return to Singapore on Wednesday (June 23).

While affirming the cooperation between Singapore and Vietnam, both bilaterally and at Asean level, the two ministers noted the substantive cooperation across a range of sectors and agreed to expand it to new growth areas such as digital economy, cybersecurity, clean energy, sustainable development, and smart cities.

"They also exchanged views on international and regional developments, and stressed the importance of Asean centrality and unity to promote peace and stability in the region," the MFA said in a statement.

During his visit, Dr Balakrishnan and Mr Son signed the renewed agreement on the Study Visit Programme and Executive Education Programme for Senior Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Officials from 2021 to 2023.

The agreement will facilitate continued exchanges between Singapore and Vietnam through the participation of senior CPV officials in study visits and executive education programmes in Singapore on topics such as public administration, urban planning, transport management, and international issues.

The agreement builds on earlier ones that were signed in 2010, 2012, and 2016.

Dr Balakrishnan also met with President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) Central Committee Do Van Chien during his visit that began on Sunday.

In his meeting with Dr Balakrishnan, Mr Phuc emphasised the large reservoir of mutual trust and extensive record of successful collaboration between Singapore and Vietnam.

Both leaders also looked forward to more exchanges at government, parliamentary and people-to-people levels, according to the MFA.

Prime Minister Chinh and Dr Balakrishnan agreed that "officials should follow up expeditiously to resume connectivity and explore cooperation in innovation and the digital economy", said the MFA.

Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan with Vietnam President Nguyen Xuan Phuc during his official visit to the country.
Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan with Vietnam President Nguyen Xuan Phuc during his official visit to the country. PHOTO: MFA

In a wide-ranging exchange on regional cooperation and international issues, Dr Balakrishnan and Mr Chinh agreed on the importance to uphold the rules-based international order amid an increasingly complex strategic environment, and the urgent need to work closely towards a sustainable and resilient recovery from Covid-19.

They renewed their commitment to advancing the Singapore-Vietnam Strategic Partnership through high-level exchanges, economic cooperation, and capacity-building.

Mr Chinh also welcomed the strengthening of business linkages and partnerships, and underscored Vietnam's commitment to continue providing a conducive environment for Singapore investors.

In Dr Balakrishnan's meeting with Mr Chien, the two underscored the friendship between VFF and the People's Association (PA), and discussed ways to strengthen people-to-people engagement.

"Minister Balakrishnan expressed appreciation for the warm hospitality extended to him and his delegation, and looked forward to welcoming President Phuc, Prime Minister Chinh, Foreign Minister Son and other Vietnamese leaders to visit Singapore at a mutually convenient time," MFA added.

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