Polish-Singaporean relations have never been better and more substantial than now. The establishment of a direct flight connection between Warsaw and Singapore is a historical moment, the first such opportunity for Central-Eastern Europe and Singapore to date.
As the Deputy Prime Minister of Poland and Minister of Culture and National Heritage, I have always put an emphasis on facilitating people-to-people, business and cultural ties between Poland and important external partners.
Singapore, as a leading business, cultural and financial centre in South-east Asia and an important regional hub is definitely one of them.
Now, the launch of a direct Singapore-Warsaw flight by LOT Polish Airlines brings about many opportunities to tighten and expand our partnership.
The direct connection means that our countries are getting closer - not only in terms of time needed to travel between them. In fact, the recent dynamic growth of Polish-Singaporean relations came about last year when, for the first time in history, Poland hosted the then-President of Singapore Tony Tan Keng Yam for a State Visit.
A significant milestone in our relations, the visit brought to Poland a sizeable Singaporean business mission in automotive, aerospace and biomedical sectors and resulted in three signed memoranda of understanding. Simultaneously, a Singaporean aerospace company decided to build a factory in Poland.
In the last two years, Poland significantly broadened its presence in Singapore: we opened a trade office, which will bring more Polish businesses into Singapore and help Singaporean investors enter Polish market. In December last year, the first ever Polish Defence Attache accredited to Singapore commenced his duties.
Economic cooperation is also high on our agenda. Singapore is one the biggest export markets for Polish products in South-East Asia with potential to grow. As Poland is Europe’s agriculture powerhouse, we see, for example, an increased interest in our fresh products, such as meat, eggs, fruits and dairy.
With Poland planning large infrastructural projects, such as a Central Communication Hub, we would like to encourage Singaporean companies to be a part of this effort.
Poland could also become a convenient manufacturing spot for Singaporean partners in automotive and aviation, a strong partner for R&D in transport industry, or a profitable location for the real estate investments. We look forward to promising cooperation in the construction and fintech sectors, with bilateral agreements signed in these areas.
Poland is also a convenient starting point for Singapore’s expansion to Central and Eastern Europe – due to its central location, modern infrastructure and low business operating costs. It is growing in importance as a logistics and transportation hub.
With Singapore’s prominent position as regional trade centre for South-east Asia, the new air connection will conveniently link also our respective regions, creating opportunities for Polish and Singaporean businesses on the regional scale.
We are currently exploring more options for cultural cooperation. With more than 1,000 years of history, Poland has a rich culture which we would like to share with as well as learn from multicultural Singapore. One such effort is our PolandSHIOK! festival to promote Polish art and culture, as well as cuisine and food products. The second edition, which just came to an end, featured more than 20 events presenting Poland in Singapore in the span of a month!
Later this year, we will be proud to bring to Singapore our worldwide festivities on the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of Regaining Independence. One highlight is “The Gift of the Youth” or Dar Młodzieży – a famous Polish training frigate – that will make a stop in Singapore as one of the selected ports for its Independence Cruise around the world. The visit will be marked by engaging events on board for Singaporean public and business.
The ship’s calling on Singapore continues the tradition of another frigate Dar Pomorza (Gift of the Pomerania Region), which has an unexpected connection with Singapore as the bell that originates from the ship is now on Mount Faber. Known as “The Bell of Happiness”, it miraculously found its way to Singapore, probably from Japan, and is said to bring marital happiness to newly-weds.
Next year marks 50 years of Singapore-Poland bilateral ties as well as the 200th Anniversary of the establishing of modern Singapore. We have a lot to celebrate as Polish-Singaporean relations have never been better and more substantial than now. I trust it will let us remember how important it is to build and nurture new connections between our countries, and between Europe and Asia. I strongly believe that this is just a start of a new reality – of a truly interconnected Eurasia.
Professor Piotr Glinski is Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland. He is in Singapore today till Friday on an official visit.