France seeks S'pore partnership in energy transition, digitalisation to cut carbon emission

France's Minister for Foreign Trade Oliver Becht (fifth from left) visited the port operated by French shipping giant CMA CGM. PHOTO: BECHT_OLIVIER/TWITTER

SINGAPORE - France is seeking to expand its partnership with Singapore to achieve goals set in the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Mr Olivier Becht, France's Minister for Foreign Trade, said Europe's third-largest economy wants to work with Singapore and its companies to develop technologies and solutions for energy transition and digitalisation.

The two countries on Sept 21 approved the France-Singapore Digital and Green Partnership workplan, which includes programmes to support joint research and development projects, cyber-security labelling schemes, artificial intelligence, and heritage conservation.

Mr Becht then left for Indonesia to attend the Group of 20 ministerial meeting.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday in Singapore, on his second visit here, he said some French companies are already helping the Republic with renewable energy installations and digitalisation projects that reduce carbon and greenhouse gas emissions.

Mr Becht visited the Port of Singapore, where French shipping giant CMA CGM and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) recently initiated a collaboration to develop solutions for maritime decarbonisation, digitalisation and innovation.

Among the pact's focus areas is the implementation of MPA's Opt-E-Arrive system that will help CMA CGM vessels to skip anchorage stops and arrive just in time at the berth, saving bunker fuel.

Mr Becht said his country wants to further work with Singapore on renewables such as solar power, cleaner fuels like hydrogen and nuclear energy.

"One of the most important challenges that we face together is energy transition. France has a lot to share about renewable energy and nuclear production, and is investing massively to develop the production of hydrogen based on nuclear energy," he said.

"France is also developing small modular reactors that could be a response for Singapore's challenge in terms of electricity production," he said.

On trade tensions with China, Mr Becht said France has a vision of China as a partner, an economic competitor and a systemic rival.

"We understand that a lot of Asian countries consider China as a partner as it is a neighbour. France also considers China as a partner and doesn't seek any confrontation.

"But I think - and a lot of Indo-Pacific countries want it too - we want China to continue to be part of the multilateral system," he said.

"We cannot solve the issues we face today with unilateralism. We have to maintain the multilateral system, which demands respect of international law, and respect of maritime passages in the region that facilitate trade."

He added: "We are also convinced that there is no possibility to solve the climate change problem without China."

Singapore and France enjoy strong bilateral trade and investment relations.

France is Singapore's second-largest European Union trading partner in goods and its fifth-largest EU investor.

Singapore is France's top trade and investment partner in Asean.

There is an active community of more than 2,500 French businesses and 300 French start-ups in Singapore, as well as more than 200 French researchers in academic and research centres here.

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