Britain and S'pore exploring areas for tie-ups

Mr Wightman says areas of collaboration include data science, smart cities and healthcare.
Mr Wightman says areas of collaboration include data science, smart cities and healthcare.

There is wide scope for closer cooperation between Britain and Singapore, and both sides are exploring areas of collaboration, British High Commissioner Scott Wightman said yesterday.

This includes teaming up in areas such as data science, smart cities and healthcare, Mr Wightman said in a media interview, one day after British Prime Minister Theresa May outlined her priorities for Brexit, including quitting the European Union's single market.

Mr Wightman said Mrs May's vision will give Britain the freedom to negotiate new trade arrangements with other countries, including Singapore.

"The sort of areas that we will probably want to look at include data science and big data, where there is a shared view in Singapore and the United Kingdom about the significance of the opportunities there," he said.

When asked about Brexit's impact on Singapore investment, he said the fundamental reasons that draw investors to Britain, such as good laws and infrastructure and a progressive corporate tax rate, have not changed.

"One of the great advantages of Singaporean investors is they tend to be long-term investors, so they are often less anxious about the short-term volatility that you sometimes see in foreign exchange markets," he said.

And "relatively few" Singapore firms invested in Britain have a direct interest in access to the single market, he added.

The numbers bear out the importance of the economic relationship, said Mr Wightman: Singapore is the UK's largest trading partner in South-east Asia, while Singapore is one of the top 10 foreign investors in the UK. There are more than 4,000 British companies with a presence here.

"We have always had a very intensive dialogue with the Singapore Government on all aspects of our trade and investment relationship, and we do envisage that continuing over the next couple of years while the EU negotiation is going on," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2017, with the headline 'Britain and S'pore exploring areas for tie-ups'. Subscribe