Singapore will enter new phase with "slower but qualitatively better growth": Lim Hng Kiang

Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang giving a keynote address at a business seminar in Paris on Oct 28, 2013. It was titled 'Singapore and France: Linking Asia & Europe through Trade and Investment' and jointly organised by the Singapore
Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang giving a keynote address at a business seminar in Paris on Oct 28, 2013. It was titled 'Singapore and France: Linking Asia & Europe through Trade and Investment' and jointly organised by the Singapore Business Federation and UbiFrance. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

PARIS - Singapore is entering a new phase where, as its economy matures, it expects "slower but qualitatively better growth", said Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang on Monday.

Addressing French businessmen in Paris, he said that Singapore continues to welcome talent and investments, while being mindful of its physical and social constraints.

“We will maintain a pro-business environment which helps companies succeed in Singapore,” he said.

“We may not be the cheapest place to do business, but we stand firmly on a solid foundation built on efficiency, predictability and high standards of excellence.”

He was speaking at a business seminar on linking Asia and Europe through trade and investment organised by the French Agency for International Business Development (UbiFrance) and the Singapore Business Federation.

Mr Lim, who is part of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s delegation to France, noted that Singapore currently has the most extensive network of free trade agreements in Asia, and will continue to expand this network.

They provide companies with greater market connectivity, and he cited the landmark European Union-Singapore Free Trade Agreement as an example.

The landmark pact’s legal text was recently initialled by both sides and now awaits ratification.

It will give consumers more choices and, notably, “bring France even closer to the hearts of the average Singaporean”, said Mr Lim.

Currently, agri-food products and consumer goods account for more than a quarter of French exports to Singapore.

“This is no surprise since France is well-known for its gourmet food, and eating happens to be one of Singaporeans’ favourite pastimes,” he said.

Singaporeans can already experience the different facets of French culinary culture when they step into French Michelin chef Guy Savoy’s restaurant in Singapore, or when they buy a brioche from French artisan boulanger Éric Kayser, he said.

Protection of intellectual property rights for uniquely French food products will be further enhanced under the pact.

Singapore is currently France’s largest trading partner in Southeast Asia and third largest trading partner in Asia, after China and Japan. France is Singapore's second largest trading partner in the EU after Germany. Last year, bilateral trade with France hit an all-time high of €11.3 billion .