Climate change and education agreements inked during Laos President's state visit

SINGAPORE - Singapore and the Lao People's Democratic Republic inked an agreement on Wednesday evening (May 9) to fight climate change and enhance sustainable development.

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources and the Lao Ministry of Natural Resources was signed as part of Laos President Bounnhang Vorachith's state visit to Singapore, at the invitation of President Halimah Yacob.

Effective over three years, it will see Singapore provide assistance to Laos in areas such as water supply and demand management, water quality management, climate change adaptation and mitigation, meteorology and hydrology management and operation, pollution control, and environment planning and monitoring.

These will be achieved through policy exchanges, workshops, seminars and private sector projects.

There was also a separate agreement signed to strengthen cooperation between schools of Singapore and Laos through increased exchanges.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and President Bounnhang witnessed the signing of the two MOUs at the Istana on Wednesday.

The two leaders also met to discuss enhancing bilateral economic cooperation and exchanged views on recent regional developments.

As part of the state visit, President Halimah held a welcome ceremony and state banquet at the Istana in President Bounnhang's honour.

This is his first visit to Singapore since becoming president in April 2016. His last official visit to Singapore was in 2001, when he was Prime Minister.

At the state banquet, President Halimah emphasised the warm friendship between Singapore and Laos.

She said: "Laos is one of the fastest growing economies in the region. Average growth rates have been 7 per cent or more over the past decade. Singapore companies see the strong growth potential in Laos, and are keen to step up cooperation in areas where their niche capabilities align with Laos' priorities."

She also noted the strong cooperation and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries, which will celebrate 45 years of bilateral ties next year.

As a gesture of friendship, President Halimah will send President Bounnhang a cut from an orchid named after him.

President Bounnhang is expected to visit the Urban Redevelopment Authority and Singapore Tourism Board on Thursday (May 10), the second and last day of his state visit here, where he will be briefed on Singapore's land use planning and given an overview of Singapore's tourism promotion efforts.

He is accompanied by his wife, Mrs Khammeung Vorachith, various ministers and officials from his government and a business delegation.